As expected, Simone Biles must outscore a U.S. teammate to make the world championships all-around final.
The Olympic all-around gold medalist and three-time world champion is one of three U.S. women slated to compete on all four apparatuses in qualifying at worlds in Doha on Saturday. The top two out of Biles, 2017 World all-around champion Morgan Hurd and two-time U.S. bronze medalist Riley McCusker advance to next Thursday’s all-around final.
Biles, Hurd and McCusker are joined on the U.S. women’s team for qualifying by first-year seniors Grace McCallum (floor exercise, uneven bars and vault) and Kara Eaker (balance beam).
Ragan Smith, the 2017 U.S. all-around champion who has struggled with injuries the last year, was named the alternate.
In Tuesday’s team final, nations are reduced to three gymnasts per apparatus, with all three scores counting.
Biles, eyeing a female record-breaking fourth world title, is used to competition within the U.S. team just to make all-around finals.
In 2013, Biles and Kyla Ross outscored McKayla Maroney in worlds qualifying, then went one-two in the final.
In 2014, Biles and Ross made it ahead of MyKayla Skinner and Madison Kocian. Biles and Ross would share the podium again, this time with Ross taking bronze.
In 2015, Biles and Gabby Douglas kept Aly Raisman out of the world all-around final. In Rio, Raisman made it over Douglas. Both times, the U.S. went one-two in the all-around final.
Every time, Biles safely qualified in the No. 1 spot overall and at least 1.8 points clear of the No. 3 American.
Given that, the competition between Hurd and McCusker for the second U.S. all-around final spot should be among the most intriguing of qualifying.
Hurd outscored McCusker by. 55 between two days at the U.S. Championships in August. McCusker was second to Biles at a selection camp two weeks ago, two points better than Hurd.
Gymnasts also vie for apparatus finals spots in qualifying.
The top eight women per apparatus make each of the four event finals, maximum two per country. That’s where McCallum and Eaker can make their mark individually. McCallum was second to Biles on floor at the selection camp. Eaker had the top beam score in the selection camp all-around.
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