Suni Lee, Simone Biles gear up for Day 1 of US Olympic Trials in Minneapolis

Suni Lee practicing beam during podium training on Wednesday, June 26.  (FOX 9)

All-around Olympic gold medalists Suni Lee and Simone Biles are gearing up to compete as the U.S. women's Olympic team trials kick off in Minneapolis on Friday. 

The U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials are underway at the Target Center where 20 men and 16 women are fighting for a spot on the five-member team that will represent the U.S. during the Olympic Summer Games in Paris.

The trials take place from June 27-30, with men and women competing over two days. The men completed day one of the trial on Thursday, and the women are set to take the floor for the first round of trials on Friday night.  

Women’s gymnastic Olympic trials 

All-around Olympic gold medalists Suni Lee and Simone Biles are set to compete on Friday after overcoming different challenges on the road to the 2024 Summer Olympics. 

Lee, a St. Paul native, has been dealing with kidney issues that caused her collegiate gymnastics career at Auburn to end early. She has since gotten it under control and is now competing in her hometown, with the support of her teammates.   

"Obviously, this is Suni’s hometown, so I think the biggest thing is just to support her and support everything she’s gone through," fellow gymnast Jordan Chiles said after podium training on Wednesday. "Once we support each other, we have the best, best time."

Lee won the all-around gold medal, silver team medal, and bronze medal for uneven bars at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

Biles pulled out of some Olympic events due to having the case of the "twisties." She has since returned to the sport and recently won her ninth U.S. Championships, finishing six points ahead of Skye Blakely.  

However, Blakely pulled out of the trials after suffering an Achilles injury while practicing her floor routine during podium training. She was seen being attended to by staff before getting carried off the mat and wheeled out of the arena, visibly upset. 

"This is not the way I saw my Olympic trials going or how my season ends," Blakely posted on X. "I’m going to keep my chin high and be proud of the statement I have made for myself these past couple of years."

Meanwhile, fellow 2020 Olympic team members, including Jade Carey, who competed as an individual and won gold in floor exercise, and Chiles, who won a silver medal in the team event, are attempting to make the team for a second time. Alternates on the Tokyo team, Kayla DiCello and Leanne Wong, are also back at trials to compete for a spot.

"This is definitely like the hardest team to make," said Wong after podium training, adding it would "be a dream come true to be on the Olympic team."

The women’s U.S. Olympic team will be selected after the second day of competition concludes on Sunday. 

Men's gymnastic Olympic trials

The men’s trials kicked off Thursday, with Minnesota native Shane Wiskus finishing third all around. The former Minnesota Gopher did particularly well during his floor routine, scoring the third highest. Wiskus also represented the U.S. during the 2020 Summer Olympics but did not win a medal. 

Olympian Fredrick Richard from the University of Michigan leads after the first day of trials, followed by Brody Malone of Georgia. 

Heading into the Paris games, U.S. Men’s Program Director Brett McClure said the gymnasts have increased their difficulty, especially on vault and high bar, and are above average on other events.

"We've got an unbelievable amount of pommel horse guys that are extremely good, comparative to the rest of the world," McClure said during a press conference on Wednesday. 

He added that while floor and ring events are above average for the U.S., China is still the one to beat.

"China is so good at still rings. I don't think any country is going to be able to catch them on that specific event," McClure said. 

The men get a break on Friday and compete for their second day of trial on Saturday. The team will be announced after the competition.