US women roll to 3rd straight world gymnastics title

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) The U.S. women’s gymnastics team won its third straight world title on Tuesday night, going nearly mistake free to easily grab the gold and state a case as the heavy favorite to repeat next summer at the 2016 Olympics.

The Americans put together a total of 181.338, well clear of China and far ahead of surprising Great Britain during two hours that felt like little more than a two-hour exhibition of U.S. dominance.

Anchored by two-time world champion Simone Biles on vault, the Americans took an early lead then watched everyone else fall to the wayside.

The title is the fifth world crown for the U.S., all of them coming after Martha Karolyi took over as national team coordinator in late 2000. With 10 months to go until Rio, it appears the gap between the Americans and the rest of the world has become more of a canyon.

The Americans rolled easily last fall then added reigning Olympic champion Gabby Douglas and three-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman to an already deep roster. The team breezed through qualifying, posting the top score by more than five points. It was just as overwhelming in the finals. Led by Maggie Nichols, the only American to compete in all four events, the U.S. put up the top score on vault, beam and floor while the other eight teams were forced to settle for silver.

China slogged through qualifying over the weekend but was much better in the finals. Pretty on bars, the Chinese’s only real miscue came on beam, where Wang Yan slipped and ended any real threat to make a run at the top of the podium.

The Russians were even worse. Paired to compete alongside the Americans after finishing second in qualifying, they looked ready to put up a fight when they trailed by less than a point after vault, an event the U.S. typically uses to grab a big lead. Russia ran into trouble on bars when star Viktoria Komova slipped off in the middle of her routine. The superpower then imploded on beam, as Komova, Maria Paseka and Daria Spiridonova all stunningly found themselves standing on the mat in disgust after falling.

There were no such moments for the Americans. They never missed a beat, just as they haven’t during any major competition over the last four years. The U.S. is so deep it could afford to use Raisman and Douglas only on two events. Karolyi even sat Biles on uneven bars, with Madison Kocian’s pretty 15.300 more than doing the job to putting ample breathing room between the Americans and everybody else.

Floor exercise turned out to be a coronation, just like it was three years ago at the 2012 Olympics. The only drama came for the bottom of the podium, where the host Brits overcame the Russians on the final rotation to win a team medal for the first time ever at a world championship.

The arena exploded when Ellie Downie drilled her vault and Britain hopped over Russia on the massive scoreboard. It was a significant step for a program that has steadily built itself over the last decade.

Getting to the podium is no small achievement. The top of it, however, remains reserved for the U.S. and its steady stream of stars in a pipeline that shows no signs of slowing down soon.