World Gymnastics Championships qualifying wrapped up Monday. When every routine finished and all scores were given, the standard of excellence on the women’s side was clear.
American Simone Biles was the world’s best gymnast (in qualifying, mind you) on three of four apparatuses.
She had the highest scores out of 209 gymnasts on floor exercise, 216 gymnasts on balance beam and 28 on vault (that number is tiny because that event requires two separate vaults to qualify for the event final this weekend).
Biles, 17, erred on her weak event, uneven bars (video here), yet still had a higher, four-event, all-around qualifying total than anybody else by more than seven tenths of a point.
Biles finished fourth on uneven bars at the 2013 World Championships, the only event in which she did not win a medal, in her Worlds debut. It was arguably the greatest single-meet performance by a U.S. gymnast ever — men and Olympics included.
Japan’s Kohei Uchimura receives plenty of praise for being a level above every other men’s gymnast in the world. Deservedly so, but Biles is arguably more dominant.
Uchimura was not No. 1 on any of the six men’s apparatuses in qualifying last week. He was second on high bar, fifth on floor exercise, didn’t perform two vaults and was outside the top 10 on the rest. Uchimura can win a maximum of three medals this week.
Biles, with two fewer apparatuses than the men, can win five medals this week. If all of the qualifying scores repeat in finals, she will win five gold medals, which has never been done by a woman at a single World Championships. One man has done so, the Soviet Union’s Boris Shakhlin in 1958, according to International Gymnast.
With five medals this week, Biles would move one behind Alicia Sacarmone for the most career World Championships medals in U.S. history. Sacramone earned 10 medals over five World Championships. These are Biles’ second World Championships.
Much has been made of the turnover in U.S. women’s gymnastics. No woman has made back-to-back U.S. Olympic teams since 1996 and 2000. Of the seven members of the 2010 U.S. World Championships team, only Aly Raisman hung on to make the 2012 Olympics.
For Biles to earn another great title, Olympian, she still has plenty of work ahead.