Biles hungry to keep gymnast’s edge

FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2018, file photo, Simone Biles performs on the balance beam during the Women's All-Around Final of the Gymnastics World Chamionships at the Aspire Dome in Doha, Qatar. With the Olympics a year away, the world's best gymnast believes there's always a new wrinkle, twist or turn to be added to her routine to stay ahead of her competitors. Biles will face some of American challengers in this weekend's GK US Classic, a prelude to next month's Nationals. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

By GARY B. GRAVES

AP Sports Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Simone Biles is always about taking it a step forward. Often, it’s a huge leap.

With the Olympic Games in Tokyo just over a year away, the world’s best gymnast believes her top-flight routine can always use a new wrinkle to stay ahead of her competitors. Such as tweeting out video of a punch layout front added to her signature move, “The Biles,” a double layout with a half turn on the second flip.

Biles is expected to bust the move during this weekend’s GK U.S. Classic. If nothing else, the event allows possibilities to experiment with something new as she tries to keep her edge.

“It’s exciting, but it’s also different,” Biles said Friday before a media scrum following a two-hour workout. “If you’re not looking forward to something, you don’t push yourself. I think it’s important so you’re not just at a static (point) all year long.

“We have to come out and compete and show everybody what we’ve been working on and try to prove to ourselves that we can do it as well.”

Doing it well isn’t a question for Biles, 22, the most decorated U.S. women’s gymnast. She owns 25 Olympic or World Championship medals, including a record 14 golds. That haul includes the 2016 Olympic all-around title, one of four golds won in Rio de Janeiro.

Biles is the obvious focal point of this weekend’s U.S. Classic, the final tuneup before next month’s nationals in Kansas City. The events will mark her only stateside appearances in 2019, and she aims to show improved routines in both.

Though the Spring, Texas, native again figures to raise the bar for her own benefit, Biles is mindful of how younger, hungry challengers are eager to pounce on any vulnerability she might show. That’s expecting a lot given Biles’ more-chiseled physique than 2016 and her uncanny displays of athleticism and acrobatics while flying at full speed.

Not to mention her drive not to let anyone get close in any exercise.

“This is why I keep pushing her every day and why she keeps listening to me,” jokes Laurent Landi, who coaches Biles along with his wife, Cecile.

Biles added, “I actually never really pay attention to the gap because I feel like everyone is up and coming and they’re adding difficulty to (routines) to try to catch up. It’s really exciting because it always motivates me and everyone.”

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