Left in the dust, gymnastics rivals bow to Biles

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Simone Biles: Gymnastics Superstar Of 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 7 (Reuters) - American gymnast Simone Biles' performance at the Rio Olympics on Sunday was so spectacular that even her rivals were bowing down to the 1.45 meter Texan.

The American team blew away the opposition by almost 10 points in qualifying, propelled by Biles' gravity-defying vaults, vibrant Samba-infused floor choreography, and perfect landings.

SEE MORE: Everything you need to know about the Summer Olympics

The performance earned her an enviable total score of 62.366 and the bubbly 19 year-old's ear-to-ear grin also won over the audience at the Rio Olympic Arena. Team mate Aly Raisman had the second-highest score of 60.607.

Many of her competitors merely heaped on the praise.

"Everything she does is incredible," Peruvian Ariana Orrego told Reuters after going against her in the fourth group. "It's an honor to compete with her.

"I learn so much just from watching them train."

After debuting at her first Olympic Games, Biles downplayed the admiration.

"We try not to let the pressure get to us," she said, flashing American flag-themed nail polish as she jumped from interview to interview.

The American performance pushed the Chinese, Russian and British teams down the ladder, but even so Biles' closest competitors seemed to accept she was in a league of her own.

"She just wows us," said Britain's Claudia Fragapane. "I really take my hat off to her."

In qualifying, four competitors from each country compete on each apparatus with only the top three scores counting towards the total. In the final, each nation will put forward three athletes and all three scores will count.

With the Biles-led American team so strong, some competitors are feeling a bit fatalistic.

"They are unbeatable at the moment," lamented Russian Aliya Mustafina. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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The top 5 gymnasts of the 2016 US Olympic team
Gymnast Simone Biles poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California March 7, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Jul 8, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; Simone Biles from Spring, TX, during the uneven bars in the women's gymnastics U.S. Olympic team trials at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 10: Simone Biles competes on the balance beam during Day 2 of the 2016 U.S. Women's Gymnastics Olympic Trials at SAP Center on July 10, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 24: Simone Biles competes on the vault during day one of the 2016 P&G Gymnastics Championships at Chafitz Arena on June 24, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 20: Gymnast Gabby Douglas poses for a portrait at the USOC Rio Olympics Shoot at Quixote Studios on November 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Jul 10, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; Gabby Douglas during the balance beam in the women's gymnastics U.S. Olympic team trials at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Gabby Douglas competes on the balance beam during the U.S. women's gymnastics championships Sunday, June 26, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jul 8, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; Gabby Douglas from Tarzana, CA, during the vault in the women's gymnastics U.S. Olympic team trials at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 20: Gymnast Aly Raisman poses for a portrait at the USOC Rio Olympics Shoot at Quixote Studios on November 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 24: Aly Raisman competes on the balance beam during day one of the 2016 P&G Gymnastics Championships at Chafitz Arena on June 24, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Jul 8, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; Aly Raisman, Needham, MA, during the balance beam in the women's gymnastics U.S. Olympic team trials at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Aly Raisman reaches for the top bar on the uneven bars during the preliminary round of the women's Olympic gymnastics trials, Friday, June 29, 2012, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 20: Gymnast Madison Kocian poses for a portrait at the USOC Rio Olympics Shoot at Quixote Studios on November 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 08: Madison Kocian competes on the balance beam during day 1 of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women's Gymnastics Team Trials at SAP Center on July 8, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Madison Kocian competes in the vault during the U.S. women's gymnastics championships, Friday, June 24, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Madison Kocian of the United States performs on the uneven bars during the women's qualifying of the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at the Guangxi Gymnasium in Nanning, capital of southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
U.S. gymnast Laurie Hernandez poses at the Karolyi Ranch Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in New Waverly, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
EVERETT, WA - APRIL 09: Laurie Hernandez of the United States competes on the uneven bars during Day 2 of the 2016 Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships at Xfinity Arena on April 9, 2016 in Everett, Washington. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
July 10, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; Laurie Hernandez, from Old Bridge, NJ, during the floor exercise in the women's gymnastics U.S. Olympic team trials at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 8, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; Laurie Hernandez from Old Bridge, NJ during the balance beam in the women's gymnastics U.S. Olympic team trials at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
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