Four women tied for the gold medal(s) in the World Championships uneven bars final on Saturday.
American Madison Kocian, Russians Viktoria Komova and Daria Spiridonova and China’s Fan Yilin all scored 15.366 points in Glasgow, Scotland.
It’s the first four-way tie in Worlds or Olympics history, according to the International Gymnastics Federation. Ties are broken at the Olympics, but not in this case at the World Championships.
Organizers had gold medals for all four gymnasts. For the medal ceremony, three anthems were played with flags being held by officials rather than raised in the arena.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, and I didn’t really think anything like this would even be possible,” Spiridonova said.
Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas was the next highest finisher in fifth place with a 15.133.
Kocian, 18 and at her second Worlds, boosted her hopes of making the 2016 U.S. Olympic team by excelling on the U.S. women’s weakest event. She said she debated after 2014 Worlds between going straight to college, usually signaling the end of elite gymnastics careers, or having wrist surgery. She chose the latter.
“I had so much pain,” Kocian said. “I could barely hold onto the bar. The medal now definitely lights extra fire in me to keep going.”
All-around gymnasts Simone Biles, Douglas, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman‘s performances at competitions throughout this season had already made them strong hopes to be named to the five-woman team at or following the July 8-10 Olympic trials in San Jose.
Nichols, at 18 years old, would be the youngest member of that team. If the U.S. women’s team at Rio 2016 is that quintet, it will mark the first time since 1952 that no women younger than age 17 were on the team, according to sports-reference.
Earlier Saturday, three-time World all-around champion Biles earned her third straight Worlds medal on vault, a bronze.
Biles averaged 15.541 for two vaults (video here), falling .125 short of Russian Maria Paseka‘s winning score. North Korea’s Hong Un-Jong took silver.
Biles bagged silver on vault at her first two Worlds in 2013 and 2014, behind McKayla Maroney and Hong, respectively.
On Saturday, she scored 15.9 on her first attempt, taking a hop forward on her landing on the difficult Amanar. She scored lower on her second, also hopping on her landing for a 15.183. That vault scored much lower because it was much less difficult — seven tenths less in start value than her Amanar.
Paseka and Hong both had a combined eight tenths more in difficulty than Biles, though the American was much stronger in execution. Biles has said she plans to upgrade her vault difficulty before Rio 2016.
“My second vault, which is my more difficult vault, wasn’t ready yet,” Biles said. “[U.S. national team coordinator] Martha [Karolyi] said, ‘It’s fine, just do what you can do and see what happens.’ So it’s just an honor that I even got on the podium.”
She is the defending champion on both finals on the last day of competition Sunday, on the balance beam and floor exercise. Biles is one gold medal shy of the women’s Worlds record of 10 shared by Larissa Latynina, Gina Gogean and Svetlana Khorkina.
Also Saturday, Great Britain’s Max Whitlock and Louis Smith went one-two on pommel horse. Whitlock edged Smith by one tenth of a point and captured the first Worlds gold by a British man. Smith, who sat out 2013 and didn’t compete at 2014 Worlds, earned his eighth Olympic or Worlds medal — none gold.
Japan’s Kenzo Shirai delivered as favorite by winning his second World title on floor exercise in the last three years with a 16.233, well ahead of silver medalist’s Whitlock’s 15.566.
It marked the second largest margin of victory in an Olympic or Worlds apparatus final under the Code of Points implemented in 2006 (He Kexin, uneven bars, 2009 Worlds, 1.125).
Greece’s Eleftherios Petrounias won still rings gold, his first Olympic or Worlds medal of any color, with 15.8 points over China’s You Hao (15.733) and Liu Yang (15.700).
NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air World Championships coverage Saturday from 2:30-4 p.m. ET and Sunday from 12-1:30 p.m. ET, with Al Trautwig and Olympic champions Tim Daggett and Nastia Liukin.
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