Three young Black athletes sweep podium at U.S. Gymnastics Championships, make history

The female gymnasts are following in the footsteps of some of the greats who weren't present at this year's competition, including Suni Lee, Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas.

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Three young, Black athletes exuded a lot of Black girl magic as they made history at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Tampa, Florida, over the weekend.

Konnor McClain, 17; Shilese Jones, 20; and Jordan Chiles, 21, claimed the top three spots in the senior all-around competition on Sunday, Aug. 21, becoming the first three Black female gymnasts to sweep the podium, according to NBC Connecticut.

USA Gymnastics reported that McClain won the gold medal on the balance beam and the top all-around rank with a score of 112.750 in her first senior national competition. Jones followed closely with a second-place overall score of 112.000 and Chiles placed third with a score of 111.900.

(From left) Shilese Jones, Konnor McClain and Jordan Chiles celebrate winning the all-around competition during the 2022 U.S. Gymnastics Championships at Amalie Arena on Aug. 21, 2022, in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The three are following in the footsteps of some of the greats who weren’t present at this year’s competition, according to NBC Connecticut, such as 25-time world champion Simone Biles, who has won a record seven all-around championships; now-retired gymnast Gabby Douglas, the first African American to earn the Olympic individual all-around champion title; and Tokyo 2020 Olympics all-around gold medalist Suni Lee.

“It’s so unreal,” said McClain, per NBC Connecticut. “I’m still in shock a little bit.”

McClain’s return from a stress fracture in each shin, a concussion and the flu two weeks ago made the accomplishment all the more spectacular. She is currently one of the top candidates to represent the United States at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

“I wish I could talk to my dad right now,” McClain added. She lost her father in December.

The next time fans can see McClain, Jones and Chiles together again will be at the 2022 World Gymnastics Championships to be held in Liverpool, England, beginning Oct. 29.

The three are also part of the 2022–23 Senior Women’s National Team, according to USA Gymnastics.

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