Simone Biles

Simone Biles repeats as World all-around champion (video)

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Simone Biles became the first woman in 11 years to repeat as World all-around champion, scoring a wire-to-wire victory in Nanning, China, on Friday.

Biles, 17, scored 60.231 points over four apparatuses to win gold by .466 over Romania’s Larisa Iordache. Biles led Iordache by .133 going into the final rotation, floor exercise, but is superior to the Romanian on the event and proved it again under pressure. Biles posted the top floor score of the night among 24 gymnasts by .333 — 15.066.

“It actually blows my mind,” Biles said in a USA Gymnastics interview. “If I think about it right now, I’m just like, what? … It’s just really weird.”

U.S. Olympic team champion Kyla Ross won bronze after taking silver in 2013. Ross, who suffered a hip injury before Worlds, moved up after Russian Aliya Mustafina fell on her floor exercise.

“I was really proud to be able to come out and push through some of the small injuries,” Ross said in a USA Gymnastics interview.

Mustafina had won the World all-around title in 2010, missed 2011 Worlds with an injury and won bronze at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 World Championships.

I did not expect anything,” she said. “I put too much of myself into the team competition [Russia won bronze behind the U.S. and China], and there was no stamina left in me for my own thing in the women’s individual final.”

Biles had a funny moment during the medal ceremony, jumping off the podium because a bee was on her bouquet (video here).

“There was a bee on my flowers and then Larisa told me, so I tried to get the bee off and then the bee chased me, and then it got on Kyla,” she said. “I just don’t do bugs.”

Before Biles, the last woman to repeat as World all-around champion was Russian Svetlana Khorkina. Biles joined Shannon Miller as the only American women to win multiple Olympic or World all-around golds. Mary Lou RettonCarly PattersonNastia Liukin and Gabby Douglas all won one Olympic all-around title and zero World Championships.

Biles also ended this streak for U.S. women’s gymnasts: in the 10 previous years, 10 different women were the top American all-around finishers at the year’s biggest competition — Worlds or the Olympics.

That speaks to the high turnover in women’s gymnastics, leading the sport’s followers to ask if Biles could possibly sustain this level of excellence for another two years to the Rio Olympics.

In terms of the Olympics, keep this in mind: four members of the Fierce Five were competing in the junior division two years before the London Games. And the top U.S. woman at the year’s biggest all-around competition in 2002, 2006 and 2010 did not make the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Biles was asked if she aspires to be like Japan’s Kohei Uchimura, who won his fifth straight World all-around title Thursday.

“I don’t think so,” she said. “I think he’s crazy and I have no idea, but I don’t think so because he’s a legend.”

The World Gymnastics Championships continue with event finals Saturday and Sunday. Biles has chances at three more medals (full schedule here).

Kohei Uchimura, greatest ever after 5th World Championship?

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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