Simone Biles sets all-time medal record at gymnastics worlds
STUTTGART, Germany (AP) — Everyone counts Simone Biles’ medals except Simone Biles.
Winning her 24th and 25th world championship medals in beam and floor Sunday put the United States gymnast top of the all-time medal charts for the championships.
Biles won five gold medals this week. If she can repeat that at next year’s Olympics it would be a feat no female gymnast has managed at a single Games.
But for Biles, it’s not about the statistics.
“I can’t be more thrilled with the performance that I put out at this world championships,” she said. The medal record? “I’m not a number person.”
Aged 22, she’s a hero to younger gymnasts who grew up watching her routines.
“I’m second in the world after Simone Biles, and she’s obviously so amazing. And to be second is super crazy,” the 16-year-old U.S. gymnast Sunisa Lee said after taking silver behind Biles in Sunday’s floor exercise. “I don’t know how she’s been doing this for so long.”
Biles’ 24th medal came on the beam, breaking a tie for 23 with Belarusian gymnast Vitaly Scherbo.
Biles scored 15.066 after a near-flawless routine, opting for a simpler dismount than the double-double she performed earlier in the championships.
That dismount is a sore point for Biles, who introduced the double-double to competition this season and had the skill officially named after her at the worlds — there are four Biles skills now. She feels the International Gymnastics Federation didn’t reward it with a high enough difficulty rating.
“It’s not worth the one-tenth (extra difficulty point). I’m sorry, it’s just not,” she said.
When her score was announced, guaranteeing the medal record, Biles leaped up from her seat with a broad smile and punched the air.
“I was really excited. I thought it was going to be at least a 14.8, 14.9, but to see 15, I was like, ‘Well, that’s pretty crazy,’ so I was very proud,” she said.
China took silver and bronze with Liu Tingting on 14.433 and Li Shijia on 14.3, respectively.
Biles won the floor exercise by a full point, scoring 15.133 despite a step out of bounds on one pass, and blew kisses to the audience after finishing her routine. Her U.S. teammate Lee won silver, her third medal of the championships, while Angelina Melnikova took bronze for Russia.
Biles’ winning routine came after a long wait when Brazilian gymnast Flavia Saraiva requested an inquiry into her score, during which time Biles sat on the edge of the floor.
Her earlier gold medals came in the team event Tuesday, the individual all-around Thursday and the vault Saturday.
A fifth place on uneven bars Saturday ended Biles’ chances of winning a medal in all six events, which she did last year in her comeback world championships after a sabbatical in 2017.
The uneven bars are historically Biles’ weakest event, though she still won a world silver in 2018, and two-time world champion Nina Derwael of Belgium is the strongest contender to stop a gold-medal sweep by Biles and the U.S. women’s team at the Olympics.
Biles hasn’t confirmed whether she’ll continue to compete after next year’s Olympics, so this week may have been her last at the world championships. Blowing kisses to the crowd wasn’t meant as a goodbye to the competition, she said.
“It’s just a good floor routine, farewell to just the end of this world championship chapter here in Stuttgart,” she said.
Of her 25 career world medals, 19 are gold, against 12 of 23 for Scherbo.
Earlier, Russia’s Nikita Nagornyy won the men’s vault for his third gold medal of the championships. He’s the first European man to win the vault since 2010.
Nagornyy scored an average 14.966 from his two vaults, beating his friend and Russian teammate Artur Dalaloyan into second place. The bronze went to Ukraine’s Igor Radivilov.
The 38-year-old Romanian Marian Dragulescu, a four-time world champion, secured qualification for his fifth Olympics by placing fourth.
Britain won its second gold of the championships as Joe Fraser scored 15 points to win on parallel bars. Ahmet Önder was second for Turkey, with Japan’s Kazuma Kaya third. Max Whitlock won Britain’s first gold medal Saturday on pommel horse.
Arthur Mariano won gold for Brazil on the high bar, scoring 14.9 ahead of Tin Srbic for Croatia. Dalaloyan took the bronze to end the championships with four medals.