(CNN) — In her first competitive event since 2021, legendary gymnast Simone Biles made a triumphant return, claiming first place in front of a packed house at the Core Hydration Classic Saturday.
The gymnastics superstar scored a 14.0 on the uneven bars, a 14.8 on the balance beam, a 14.9 in the floor exercise and a remarkable 15.4 in the vault before a roaring crowd in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, just outside Chicago.
Overall, Biles finished in first place in the all-around, floor routine and balance beam. She placed third on the uneven bars.
The seven-time Olympic medalist made her first appearance since pulling out of several events at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Her scores put her ahead of competitors Jordan Chiles, Leanne Wong, and Katelyn Jong.
During her floor routine, Biles performed a double layout with a half-turn – a move named after her, to earn score of 14.9.
Biles then performed a Yurchenko double pike, considered the hardest women’s vault in the world, to earn an impressive score of 15.4.
Being cheered on by the crowd, Biles reacted with a fist bump and her signature smile after finishing the final event.
Competitors are scored on a combination of execution and difficulty, with total scores typically falling in between 12 and 15.
Biles registered to compete in all four events at this weekend’s Core Hydration Classic (previously called the US Classic), a spokesperson for USA Gymnastics told CNN.
The 26-year-old athlete withdrew from the women’s team final in Tokyo after suffering from what is known as the “twisties” – a mental block that causes gymnasts to lose track of their position in midair.
Biles opted not to compete in four individual finals at the Tokyo Games, but she did return to compete in the balance beam, winning bronze after using a modified dismount in her routine.
The Core Hydration Classic is the final opportunity for athletes to qualify for the national championships in San Jose, California, later this month.
The world gymnastics championships are then scheduled to take place between September 30 and October 8 in Antwerp, Belgium.
A sellout crowd was expected on Saturday at Hoffman Estates, where spectators will be eager to not only see Biles’ much-anticipated comeback, but also the likes of returning Olympic gold medalist Sunisa Lee.
Biles is the most decorated gymnast in US history, winning 32 medals across the Olympics and the world championships. Among her medal haul are four golds at the Olympics and 19 golds at the world championships – the most by any gymnast in history.
Although Biles is registered to compete in all four events this weekend, athletes may decide not to compete on an apparatus at any given time.
After a two-year hiatus, Biles is returning to gymnastics as a celebrated advocate for mental health. Even in the months after the Olympics, she said she was still “scared to do gymnastics,” but recently said on Instagram that she is “twisting again. No worries. All is good.”
She has made few public comments about her return to the sport but did express her excitement on social media last month, writing: “Sorry I’ve been a little MIA since the announcement. I’m overwhelmed with all of your messages, support & love! excited to get back out on the competition floor!”
For those accustomed to seeing Biles dominate competitions with ease, her departure in 2021 was an unexpected move. But for some more familiar with the intense physical and psychological demands of the sport, Biles’ decision to opt out of competition was more unprecedented than it was surprising.
“(Biles’ departure) was shocking in that nobody else had ever in gymnastics stood up and said ‘Enough. Right now, this is enough, and I need to take care of myself no matter what everybody wants from me on the biggest stage on the planet,’” sports journalist and author Joan Ryan told CNN Sport.
Fans and fellow athletes alike are excited to witness the gymnastics great back in action and with the opening ceremony of next year’s Olympics less than a year away, what more is to come for the most decorated US gymnast in history?
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