Nina Derwael

Simone Biles ties world gymnastics championships medal record, leads U.S. one-two

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STUTTGART, Germany — Simone Biles would lose count of her world gymnastics championships medals if she wasn’t reminded of the number at nearly every interview stop in the mixed zone.

“I never think of medal counts or anything,” she said after winning her record-tying 23rd medal and record-extending 17th gold in the vault final on Saturday, the penultimate day of worlds. “I let everyone else do the counting for me.

“I couldn’t tell you how many I have if you didn’t tell me already.”

Biles was joined on the vault podium by Jade Carey, who earned her second vault silver in three years despite taking a large step out of the central landing area on her second vault.

Biles performed exquisite vaults — a Cheng and an Amanar — with just small hops on each landing. The scores — 15.333 and 15.466 — were the highest of the 16 total vaults performed by the eight women in the final. She chose not to throw her eponymous vault that carries more difficulty.

Later Saturday, Biles finished fifth on uneven bars, her weakest event, with the same score that earned her silver last year. Belgian Nina Derwael repeated as world champ. American Sunisa Lee earned her first individual world medal — a silver.

“I couldn’t be more happy,” Biles said of her day. “I’m not even mad about [bars]. I knew going into today there was a very slim chance that I would even medal.”

Biles can still break her tie with 1990s Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo for the total medals record Sunday on the balance beam or the floor exercise, the last two finals. She is the favorite on both events.

Biles has said she is 99 percent sure these will be her final worlds. That would set up the Tokyo Games to be her final competition.

“I never think, oh, this could be my last,” she said. “I kind of cherish the moment.”

In other events Saturday, French gymnast Samir Ait Said, who gruesomely broke his leg on a Rio Olympic vault landing, qualified for the Tokyo Games by earning the last available spot from the still rings final.

Said, whose father died in February, earned bronze and knocked Greek Olympic still rings champion Eleftherios Petrounias off the podium and out of an automatic Olympic spot. Petrounias can still qualify for the Olympics via another route next year. Turkey’s Ibrahim Colak took gold, his nation’s first world title.

Brit Max Whitlock earned his third world title on pommel horse. Whitlock will go to Tokyo looking to become the first repeat Olympic pommel horse champion in 40 years.

Carlos Yulo became the first Filipino gymnast to win a world title, prevailing on floor by one tenth. Yulo, 19, became the first Filipino medalist when he earned floor bronze last year.

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GYM WORLDS: TV Schedule | Finals Results

Simone Biles wins record 13th world title, completes medal set

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Simone Biles is the most decorated world champion in gymnastics history. And the only American to earn world medals in every event.

Biles earned her first world title on vault and her first world medal (silver) on the uneven bars on Friday, checking off two of the (relatively) biggest holes on her résumé. They came exactly one year after the four-time Rio Olympic champ returned to training following a 14-month break.

Biles, unable to pass a large kidney stone in Doha, passed retired Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo for most career world titles with her 13th gold.

Biles cruised to it on vault — after two silvers and a bronze in previous years — despite taking out difficulty. She chose not to perform her signature vault, the one she sat down in Thursday’s all-around final.

“You can’t change what happened yesterday,” Biles said of one of her two falls in Thursday’s all-around, which she still won convincingly due to her huge edge in difficulty.

She took out a half-twist, and though Biles had a big step on the landing, she still scored 15.266. She nailed an Amanar on her second vault for a 15.466. None of the other seven finalists cracked 15 points on either vault.

Also in the vault final, 43-year-old Oksana Chusovitina finished fourth, missing a medal by .208. The Uzbek who debuted at worlds for the Soviet Union in 1991 already holds the Olympic record of seven gymnastics appearances. At Tokyo 2020, she can become the oldest Olympic gymnast in 100 years.

An hour and leotard change later, Biles took second to Belgian Nina Derwael on bars, five tenths behind. Biles was 14th on bars in Rio and had previously made one bars final at worlds, finishing fourth in 2013.

“[2013] is when I wanted to chainsaw every bar in the country and the world,” Biles told media in Doha.

When she returned to training last year under a new coach known for his bars workers, Laurent Landi, Biles set out to improve her weakest event. What if you had told her then that she would put in the work necessary to become a world medalist in 365 days?

“I would have probably said I’m quitting,” she said, laughing. “To even work and put that much effort into bars, I probably would have been like, no, no thank you.”

If Biles earns medals on balance beam and floor exercise Saturday, she will become the first woman to make the podium in every event at worlds since Soviet Yelena Shushunova in 1987. She would also tie retired Russian Svetlana Khorkina for the most world medals for a woman with 20.

GYM WORLDS: Full Results | TV Schedule

In other events, two-time Olympian Sam Mikulak‘s bid for a first individual Olympic or world medal was foiled yet again. Mikulak, a five-time U.S. all-around champion, finished fourth on pommel horse and seventh on floor exercise.

On Wednesday, Mikulak was in third place going into the last rotation of the all-around, erred and dropped to fifth. He also finished fourth in high bar finals at the 2013 Worlds and 2016 Olympics. Mikulak has two more medal chances Saturday on parallel bars and high bar.

The pommel horse title came down to a tiebreaker. Xiao Ruoteng, who on Wednesday lost his all-around repeat bid via tiebreak, this time took gold over Olympic champion Max Whitlock of Great Britain, though both had the same score of 15.166. Xiao had a higher execution score, keeping Whitlock from a third world title on the event.

Russian Artur Dalaloyan added floor gold to his all-around title from Wednesday. Dalaloyan unseated three-time world champion Kenzo Shirai with a 14.9-point routine, despite having six fewer tenths of difficulty. Shirai scored 14.866.

Carlos Yulo earned the Philippines’ first gymnastics worlds medal, a bronze, .034 ahead of fourth-place Yul Moldauer. Moldauer, the 2017 U.S. all-around champion, earned floor bronze last year.

Greek Eleftherios Petrounias put off shoulder surgery to win his fourth straight Olympic or world title on still rings, beating 2012 Olympic champ Arthur Zanetti by .266.

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