Simone Biles
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Simone Biles sweeps balance beam, floor exercise, breaks Worlds record

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Simone Biles tied and broke the record for women’s World Gymnastics Championships gold medals in about 90 minutes on Sunday.

Biles, already with team and all-around titles in Glasgow, Scotland, swept the balance beam and floor exercise on the final day of competition as the U.S. finished with 10 medals and five golds, most among all nations. Her best friend on the team, Maggie Nichols, was the floor bronze medalist.

“We did a lot of good things out here, more good than bad, but we still have some areas to clean up,” Biles said in a USA Gymnastics interview.

Biles won those four titles at Worlds for a second straight year, giving her 10 career Worlds gold medals among 14 overall, both U.S. records.

That broke the all-nations women’s golds record of nine previously shared by the Soviet Union’s Larisa Latynina, Romania’s Gina Gogean and Russia’s Svetlana Khorkina.

The overall record is held by Belarus’ Vitaly Scherbo, who captured 23 medals and 12 golds.

Biles, 18, is now set up to be predicted to win four gold medals at the Rio Olympics, which no gymnast has done since Scherbo took six at Barcelona 1992. The last woman to do so was Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo at Los Angeles 1984, an Olympics boycotted by the strong Soviet Union.

Biles became the first woman to win three straight solo World titles on floor exercise, scoring 15.8 points with unmatched difficulty, execution and height on her tumbling passes.

Her margin of victory (seven tenths) was the largest in the event at a Worlds or Olympics since the perfect-10 scoring system was thrown out in 2006.

“I wanted to end with a bang,” Biles said. My mom takes my medals from me and puts them in a safe, and I do not know the combination.”

The 4-foot-9 model of power and precision also became the first woman to win three straight Worlds medals on balance beam. Again, none of the other seven women in the final bettered her difficulty or execution.

Biles repeated as champion in the event with the second-largest winning margin (1.025) in any Olympic/Worlds individual event since the perfect-10 was axed.

She had one clear beam wobble, lifting one of her legs off the four-inch-wide apparatus to regain balance, stuck her landing and notched her highest beam score ever at Worlds, a 15.358. That earned her a pat on the head from U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi.

“The highlight of these championships is my beam,” said Biles, who rebounded after nearly falling off the beam in the all-around Thursday. “If I was told that I would be two-time (World) beam champion, I wouldn’t have believed it before.”

Also Saturday, Japanese icon Kohei Uchimura matched Biles with his 10th career Worlds gold, prevailing on high bar ahead of American Danell Leyva. Uchimura, 26, now owns 19 Worlds medals and earned three golds at one Worlds for the first time in his career.

“The kind of competition that Kohei puts up there is obviously unique, it’s legendary,” Leyva, who earned his fifth career Worlds medal, said in a USA Gymnastics interview. “There’s nothing I could do.”

Romania’s Marian Dragulescu nearly tied the record for most World titles on one apparatus in the vault final. The 34-year-old out of retirement earned silver, falling short of a fifth vault gold to North Korea’s Ri Se Gwang, who repeated as World champion.

After his vaults, Dragulescu celebrated his average score (15.4) by running while waving his arms like an airplane, wearing a shirt with a picture of himself and an advertisement for his official Facebook page and taking photos with a selfie stick.

American Donnell Whittenburg earned his first individual Worlds medal with a vault bronze.

China’s Hao You took parallel bars gold with a 16.215. Leyva, the 2011 World champion and 2014 silver medalist, finished sixth.

MORE GYMNASTICS: Where is McKayla Maroney?

Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

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Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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