U.S. women’s gymnastics team wins record-breaking world championship
A U.S. women’s gymnastics team mixing veterans and new stars won the program’s record-breaking sixth consecutive world championship in Liverpool, England, on Tuesday.
Shilese Jones, the U.S.’ new top all-arounder, plus Tokyo Olympic medalists Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles, Olympic alternate and 2021 World all-around silver medalist Leanne Wong and 17-year-old rookie Skye Blakely combined to crush the field.
The U.S. totaled 166.564 points with 11 of 12 hit routines, distancing silver medalist Great Britain by 3.201 to break its tie for the most consecutive world team titles with Romania (1994-2001).
It was the closest of its team titles since the start of its dynasty in 2011, though it wasn’t very close.
“It was fantastic,” said 2008 Olympian Chellsie Memmel, one of three leaders of the U.S. women’s program. “They all went out there and did their job.”
The Americans went three for three on vault and uneven bars to open up a 2.1-point lead at the halfway point. That allowed them to absorb Blakely’s fall off the balance beam and still cruise through the last rotation on floor to beat the host Brits, who earned their best-ever team finish at an Olympics or worlds.
Canada earned bronze, its first Olympic or world team medal for men or women.
Russian gymnasts who won last year’s Olympic title were banned due to the war in Ukraine.
Brazil, which hoped to become the first Western Hemisphere nation other than the U.S. to win an Olympic or world team medal, finished fourth. Its hopes deflated minutes before the competition when co-star Flavia Saraiva was replaced on three of the four events, likely due to an ankle injury from Sunday’s qualifying.
Italy (fifth) and China (sixth) entered as medal contenders but dropped off in the first rotation with two gymnasts each falling.
Last year, the U.S. was relegated to silver at the Olympics, snapping a streak of six consecutive global titles (Olympics and worlds).
Olympic all-around gold medalists Simone Biles and Suni Lee haven’t competed in elite gymnastics since the Tokyo Games, and haven’t committed either way for a 2024 Olympic run. Konnor McClain, who won the U.S. all-around title in August, withdrew from world team consideration with a back injury last month.
So this U.S. team leaned on a recent trend of NCAA gymnasts returning to elite competition: Carey, Chiles and Wong all went last year from Tokyo into freshman years of college, where the gymnastics system is so different from elite that it mostly requires different routines. They returned to elite after April’s NCAA Championships.
Historically, before the name, image and likeness era, most top U.S. female gymnasts either went professional, becoming ineligible for the NCAA, or signaled a retirement from elite competition by taking an NCAA scholarship.
“This is a comeback season for a lot of us,” said Chiles, who earned her first global gold medal. “We’re going to continue it all the way to ’24.”
The U.S. women, competing in a team event without Biles for the first time since 2012, had the best score in Sunday’s qualifying by a significant 2.668 points over Great Britain.
The men’s team final is Wednesday (1:45 p.m. ET, Peacock). The U.S. can win its first medal since 2014 after placing third in qualifying behind Japan and Great Britain.
Jones and Carey are medal contenders in Thursday’s women’s all-around final. Jones, Carey, Chiles and Blakely also qualified for individual apparatus finals on Saturday and Sunday.
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