Simone Biles

U.S. gymnastics wraps up most successful World Championships ever

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The U.S. gymnastics team dominated the World Championships like never before, winning 12 medals (three gold), including five on the final day of competition Sunday.

Simone Biles, 16, was the standout again, winning the floor exercise final. She finished her first international meet with four medals. She also won bronze on balance beam Sunday to give her two golds, one silver and one bronze for the meet.

Kyla Ross, the youngest member of the Olympic team, won her third silver medal in four days in Antwerp, Belgium, this time on beam behind Russian Aliya Mustafina.

On the men’s side, Steven Legendre (silver, vault) and John Orozco (bronze parallel bars) also won medals.

The U.S. won the overall medal count at a worlds or Olympics for the first time since 2005. Its previous medal high was nine at the 2005 World Championships, where all of the medals were won by the women.

China led the medal count at every worlds and Olympics (artistic gymnastics only) from 2006 to 2012.

The Chinese will look to regain the top spot at the 2014 World Championships in Nanning, China, which will include a team competition, unlike this past week’s event.

Here are full results, recaps and videos from Sunday’s event finals:

Women’s Floor Exercise

Gold: Simone Biles (USA) 15
Silver: Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) 14.633
Bronze: Larisa Iordache (ROU) 14.6
4. Mai Murakami (JPN) 14.466
5. Giulia Steingruber (SUI) 14.333
5. Kyla Ross (USA) 14.333
7. Sandra Izbasa (ROU) 13.733
8. Elsabeth Black (CAN) 13.566

Biles wrapped up one of the most successful World Championships by a single athlete ever. She won medals on every event except one, uneven bars, where she finished fourth.

The only other U.S. female gymnasts to win four medals at a single World Championships were Rebecca Bross in 2010 and Nastia Liukin in 2005.

Women’s Balance Beam

Gold: Aliya Mustafina (RUS) 14.9
Silver: Kyla Ross (USA) 14.833
Bronze: Simone Biles (USA) 14.333
4. Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) 14.3
5. Carlotta Ferlito (ITA) 14.283
6. Chunsong Shang (CHN) 14.133
7. Larisa Ioradache (ROU) 13.933
8. Anna Rodionova (RUS) 13.1

Mustafina won the only event she didn’t win a medal in at the 2010 World Championships. She picked up her third medal of worlds, adding to her bronze in the all-around and the uneven bars.

All of the medalists submitted scoring inquiries, disputing their original scores. Ross’ and Biles’ were upheld, moving Ross from 14.733 to 14.833 and Biles from 14.133 to 14.333. That lifted Biles into bronze-medal position.

Ross won her third silver medal of the meet (all-around, uneven bars). Biles added the bronze to her all-around gold and vault silver.

Men’s Vault

Gold: Yang Hak-Seon (KOR) 15.533
Silver: Steven Legendre (USA) 15.249
Bronze: Kristian Thomas (GBR) 15.233
4. Kenzo Shirai (JPN) 15.133
5. Sergio Sasaki Junior (BRA) 15.099
6. Diego Hypolito (BRA) 15.049
7. Marius Daniel Berbecar (ROU) 14.850
8. Oleg Verniaiev (UKR) 14.449

Yang entered as the reigning world and Olympic champion and the favorite. He performed last out of the eight men and posted a 15.733 on the first of his two vaults. That marked the highest score of the competition and pretty much wrapped up the gold.

Legendre ended the longest drought in event finals in U.S. gymnastics, men or women. An American had not won a medal in men’s vault at the Olympics or World Championship since Mitch Gaylord’s silver at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Men’s Parallel Bars

Gold: Kohei Uchimura (JPN) 15.666
Gold: Lin Chaopan (CHN) 15.666
Bronze: John Orozco (USA) 15.333
4. Epke Zonderland (NED) 15.3
5. Marius Daniel Berbecar (ROU) 15
6. Brandon Wynn (USA) 14.266
7. Vasileios Tsolakidis (GRE) 13.433
8. Anton Fokin (UZB) 12.466

Unlike the Olympics, there are no medal tiebreakers at the World Championships. Uchimura and Lin’s tie marked the first double gold at a worlds event since the men’s parallel bars final in 2007.

Uchimura won his third medal of the meet and 12th career worlds medal. Orozco won his first career individual worlds or Olympic medal after blowing out his left knee at a post-Olympics tour stop in October. Only one of the finalists from the 2012 Olympics was in this final (Tsolakidis). The 2011 world champion on parallel bars, American Danell Leyva, withdrew from the U.S. team with a shoulder injury.

Men’s High Bar

Gold: Epke Zonderland (NED) 16
Silver: Fabian Hambuechen (GER) 15.933
Bronze: Kohei Uchimura (JPN) 15.633
4. Sam Mikulak (USA) 15.566
5. Jossimar Orlando Calvo Moreno (COL) 15.466
6. Andreas Bretschneider (GER) 15.158
7. Ryohei Kato (JPN) 15.025
8. Lin Chaopan (CHN) 14.9

The high-flying Dutchman Zonderland followed up his Olympic gold medal on the most exciting event in gymnastics. Hambuechen was the 2007 world champion on high bar. Uchimura won his fourth medal of the meet and 13th of his career.

Mikulak, the U.S. all-around champion, was trying to win his first medal at worlds after stumbling on his final event in the all-around to finish sixth.

Impressed? McKayla Maroney wins vault world title (video)

Simone Biles, her name sparkling, extends 6-year win streak

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Simone Biles has long stood out for her gymnastics, but on Saturday she competed with her last name sparkling in silver beads on her World Champions Centre leotard for the first time. The gym’s other athletes had “WCC” on the back.

Biles lived up to the billing, extending her six-year win streak to 19 straight all-arounds, capturing the U.S. Classic, a tune-up for next month’s U.S. Championships.

Biles, the four-time Rio Olympic champion, scored 60 points in Louisville at the meet where she made her comeback last year after nearly two years off from competition. She prevailed by a comfortable 2.1 points over Riley McCusker, her largest margin of victory of her four U.S. Classic titles.

“I’m very satisfied,” she said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “I’m a little sad that I went out of bounds on floor [exercise], but overall I feel like there are improvements to be made.”

Full results are here.

Biles is prepping for nationals in Kansas City in three weeks, when she eyes a sixth U.S. all-around title to tie Clara Schroth Lomady‘s record from the AAU era in the 1940s and ’50s.

Then come the world championships in October in Stuttgart, Germany. Biles could win a fifth all-around to move one shy of Kohei Uchimura‘s record.

The world’s other top gymnasts may be her countrywomen.

Biles was outscored on balance beam on Saturday by 2018 World teammates Kara Eaker and McCusker and beaten on uneven bars by 2017 World all-around champion Morgan HurdSunisa Lee, Grace McCallum and McCusker. Biles swept all the gold medals at last year’s nationals.

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Geraint Thomas struggles; Julian Alaphilippe ups Tour de France lead

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LA MONGIE, France (AP) — When the team of Geraint Thomas was in its pomp at the Tour de France, a time trial followed by a big mountain stage would have been playgrounds for Sky — now in new colors as Ineos — to take cycling’s greatest race by the scruff of the neck and leave everyone else fighting for second place.

Not this year.

Thomas, the defending champion, cracked on Saturday on the Tour’s first encounter with a climb to above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), exposing unprecedented weaknesses in his team that has won six Tours in the past seven years.

The time trial on Friday and the climb up to the legendary Tourmalet pass on Saturday seemed primed for Thomas to reel in Julian Alaphilippe, the yellow jersey-holder from France who is setting the Tour alight with his punchy riding and determination to keep the race lead, filling French fans’ heads with dreams of a first homegrown winner since 1985.

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But instead, Thomas has seen Alaphilippe only get further and further away. In two days, the Frenchman has put 50 seconds of extra daylight between him and the Welshman. His lead — up to 2 minutes, 2 seconds — is becoming large enough to start realistically envisioning Alaphilippe in yellow in Paris next weekend as the first French winner since Bernard Hinault.

Fueling the ecstasy of delirious crowds that lined Saturday’s steep uphill finish, French rider Thibaut Pinot won Stage 14, putting him back in the picture to fight for the podium after he lost mountains of time on Stage 10.

Thomas rightly pointed out that the Tour is far from done, with six more ascents to above 2,000 meters still to come.

But his inability to stay with Pinot, Alaphilippe and other title contenders at the top of the Tourmalet — he was eighth, 36 seconds behind Pinot — was a mini-earthquake for the Tour dominated by his British team since 2012 — with champions Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and, in 2018, Thomas.

“Not the best day. I just didn’t feel quite on it from the start. I was quite weak,” Thomas said.

“At the end I knew I just had to pace it. I didn’t really attempt to follow when they kicked. I just thought I should ride my own pace rather than follow them and blow up on the steepest bit at the end. It’s disappointing. I just tried to limit the damage.”

Having taken cycling to a new level since 2012 with its vast budget and attention to the minutest of details, the team run by David Brailsford has been hit both by misfortune and by the inevitability that, eventually, other teams would start to close the gap.

A horror crash in training for four-time winner Froome, now recovering from career-threatening broken bones, robbed the team of its ace. Thomas’ own preparations were hampered by a crash at the Tour of Switzerland last month.

And Egan Bernal, being groomed by Brailsford to succeed Froome and Thomas, looks increasingly unable to compete for the title this year. Bernal was fifth on the Tourmalet and is fourth overall, 3 minutes behind Alaphilippe.

Pinot, now sixth overall and 3:12 behind Alaphilippe, is showing remarkable grit in bouncing back from his Stage 10 misfortune, when he was part of a group that got separated from other title contenders in crosswinds.

“I have this rage inside me, because in my opinion it was an injustice,” said Pinot, a podium finisher in 2014.

“Since the start of the Tour I had this stage in the back of my mind. The Tourmalet, it’s mythical,” said Pinot, who has three career stage wins at the Tour.

French President Emmanuel Macron, on hand at the top of the Tourmalet to see Pinot win and Alaphilippe extend his lead, gushed about the “two fantastic riders.”

“They attack and they have heart,” Macron said.

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