Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history, is the first-ever Team USA gymnast to win four gold medals at a single Olympics. She is pictured above at the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Credits: Wikimedia Commons)

Simone Biles is so back.

The gymnast made history Sunday night when she won her record eighth U.S. championship in San Jose, California. This is the first time an American gymnast, male or female, has broken this record. 

“I think it feels really special,” she told NBC, which broadcasted the event. “I’ve been doing it for so long, I feel like I don’t think about numbers, I think about my performance. And I think, overall, I hit eight for eight [routines]. I guess it’s a lucky number this year.”

The 26-year-old gymnast also became the oldest woman ever to win a national title since USA Gymnastics began organizing the event in 1963.

This victory comes a decade after Biles won her first championship – and since then, she’s gained worldwide accolades as a four-time Olympic gold medalist. Today, with 25 world championship medals – 18 of them gold – under her belt, Biles is the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history and is considered by many to be the greatest gymnast of all time.

Sunday’s achievement is even more notable considering that Biles only returned to the floor a few weeks ago, after taking a two-year hiatus from competing. In 2021, she announced her withdrawal from the women’s Olympic team final in Tokyo, revealing she was suffering from a phenomenon known as the “twisties” – a mental block that causes a gymnast to forget where they are in midair. In an Instagram story announcing her reason for pulling out, she wrote, “my mind and body are simply not in sync.”

The shocking announcement sparked a global conversation about mental health in athletics, with many critics accusing Biles of being a “quitter.” At the same time, plenty of others – including former Olympians like Aly Raisman and Laurie Hernandez – spoke out in support of Biles, applauding her for standing her ground. 

“I say put mental health first,” Biles told NPR. “Because if you don’t, then you’re not going to enjoy your sport and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to.”

Now, two years later, it’s clear that time off was the right move for Biles. Her performance drew a standing ovation from the crowd, which continued even as her teammate Jordan Chiles took the floor – and in response, Chiles gestured for the crowd to keep cheering for Biles.

“It’s really amazing. Everybody in here believes in me,” Biles told NBC. “So I just need to start believing in myself a little bit more, but it feels amazing and I love the fans, I love the crowd. It was really special.”

Her win on Sunday earned her a spot in the world championships, which are scheduled to start Sept. 30 in Antwerp, Belgium.