Simone Biles qualifies for her third Olympics as Hezly Rivera snags fifth spot on the team

MINNEAPOLIS — Simone Biles has officially punched her ticket to a third Olympic Games.

She will be joined in Paris this summer by Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles, Jade Carey and Hezly Rivera.

The team was selected at the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials in Minneapolis on Sunday after two days of competition. With four returning Tokyo Olympians, it is the oldest and most-decorated U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team in history.

Biles, 27, will be the oldest female American gymnast to compete at the Olympics in 72 years.

She secured an automatic spot on the Paris team by finishing first in the all-around, flanked by Lee and Chiles. The balance beam was treacherous, with falls from all three top finishers, including Biles, the reigning world champion.

Biles credited “being in a good mental spot” for helping her qualify for her third Olympics.

Joscelyn Roberson and Leanne Wong were named as alternates. Wong was also an alternate for the Tokyo Games.

Stream every moment and every medal of the 2024 Paris Olympics on Peacock, starting with the Opening Ceremony July 26 at 12 p.m. ET.

Alicia Sacramone Quinn, the strategic lead at USA Gymnastics, said the selection committee, which she heads, “had their eye” on Rivera and sees her as someone who could represent the U.S. at the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

“It was a hard decision,” she said of picking the team. “All the athletes did their jobs; they did what they needed to do.”

While there were some mistakes during Sunday’s trials, Quinn said, “better here than in Paris.”

Lee, the Tokyo Olympics all-around champion, won the uneven bars with a newly upgraded routine. She flawlessly connected daring release moves, including a Nabieva and a Bhardwaj.

Hezly Rivera, Joscelyn Roberson, Suni Lee, Simone Biles, Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles and Leanne Wong wave after being selected for the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team in Minneapolis on Sunday.Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Her stunning performance comes as she’s been battling two types of kidney disease.

“It was just such a hard, incredible journey,” she told NBC’s Hoda Kotb. “There were so many times where I thought about quitting and just giving up because I was so sick and it was just so hard to stay motivated, watching everyone get better and I can’t even get back in the gym, and constantly like self doubting myself. But once I had those people around me who lifted me up and supported me, I knew this was something that I wanted.”

Chiles’ dreams of returning to the Games were in jeopardy after she fell on beam, but she sealed her fate dancing to Beyoncé on floor, tumbling like a pro.

Carey, the reigning Olympic gold medalist on floor, anchored the trials with a high-energy floor routine. She was second on floor at trials, bested only by Biles.

The teammates are hoping for redemption in Paris, which means something different to each gymnast.

“We all have some redemption that we want so it’s really exciting for the four of us [Tokyo Olympians] to be back, with Hezley too,” Carey said.

Carey stumbled in the vault finals at Tokyo, tripping on the runway, and missed the podium. Biles withdrew from all event finals but the beam at those Games because she was dealing with the “twisties,” a loss of spatial awareness midair.

“This is definitely our redemption tour,” Biles said. “I feel like we all have more to give and our Tokyo performances weren’t the best. We weren’t under the best circumstances either but I feel like we have a lot of weight on our shoulders to go out there and prove that we’re better athletes.”

She told Kotb: “I think that we all have a little bit more to give, I know we’re more mature, I think our gymnastics is better, I think we’re a little more confident in what we’re doing. So we’re excited.”

Lee said Sunday they are hoping for a team gold, which eluded them in Tokyo. The Russian Olympic Committee took gold and the U.S. the silver.

Rivera, who turned 16 on June 4, will be the only teenager on a team of veterans, but she proved she can withstand Olympic-level pressure with a clutch routine on the balance beam.

Despite having watched Lee have an uncharacteristically rough outing on the beam directly before her, Rivera nailed her routine and tied Biles for the two-day average on the event.

“My mentality was that I had nothing to lose, so I just went out there and did my best, gave it my all, most importantly,” she said.

Rivera said she was shocked to hear her name called for the team.

“I was pretty surprised to hear my name, but I’ve also been working for this my whole life,” she said.

Three front-runners were injured in the lead-up to Friday’s competition, taking world champions Skye Blakely, Shilese Jones and Kayla DiCello out of Olympic contention. Blakely and DiCello both ruptured Achilles tendons. The nature of Jones’ injury remains unknown.

On Friday, Biles led the all-around standings by 2.5 points over Chiles, and Lee rounded out the top three.

Stream every moment and every medal of the 2024 Paris Olympics on Peacock, starting with the Opening Ceremony July 26 at 12 p.m. ET.

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