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.
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