Morgan Hurd was the U.S.’ only hope. She was up to the task.
The 16-year-old in glasses won the U.S.’ seventh straight Olympic or world all-around title in Montreal on Friday night.
She followed the likes of Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles.
Hurd did so after U.S. champion Ragan Smith withdrew minutes before the competition with an ankle injury.
Hurd did so after finishing sixth at the P&G Championships in August and sneaking onto the four-woman world team at a September selection camp.
Hurd did so after going into the final rotation, floor exercise, two tenths of a point behind Canadian Ellie Black. Black, fifth in Rio, was the overwhelming crowd favorite at the 1976 Olympic Stadium.
Hurd edged Black by one tenth of a point overall. Russia’s Elena Eremina took bronze in a competition that lacked the top four finishers from Rio.
“I was just so honored to be even picked for the worlds team,” said Hurd, who hit her four routines solidly save a minor uneven bars error and some balance beam wobbles. “It honestly just felt like the best floor routine I’ve ever done.”
The highlight of the night may have been the medal ceremony. Hurd received her gold medal from Nadia Comaneci, the 1976 Olympic all-around champion in Montreal.
“In third grade I was actually [Comaneci] for a school project,” Hurd said. “I went and dressed as her.”
Every member of the Final Five — including Olympic all-around gold and silver medalists Biles and Aly Raisman — is sitting out this season.
Biles and Raisman have said they plan to come back with eyes on Tokyo 2020. (When she was 13, Hurd woke up before dawn to live blog Biles’ performance at the 2014 World Championships in China.)
Friday’s final also missed the two favorites going into the week — the Olympic alternate Smith and Romanian Larisa Iordache.
Smith left on crutches after injuring herself warming up for her first event — vault (video here).
She was taken for X-Rays, according to USA Gymnastics. Smith’s score in qualifying, a 55.932 with a balance beam fall, was seven tenths better than Hurd’s total Friday.
Iordache, a two-time world all-around medalist, tore an Achilles warming up for floor exercise before qualification on Wednesday.
Hurd, adopted from China as a toddler and living in Delaware, is the youngest Olympic or world all-around champion since Aliya Mustafina in 2010.
She repeated Biles’ feat of winning the world all-around title in her first year as a senior gymnast, the year after the Olympics.
Hurd had the added hurdle of coming back from spring elbow surgery, too.
Black, who had never before won an Olympic or world medal, became the first Canadian male or female gymnast to win an Olympic or world all-around medal of any color.
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