Simone Biles wins sixth gymnastics worlds all-around title, ties record
Simone Biles comfortably won a record-tying sixth world all-around title in her first international gymnastics meet since the Tokyo Olympics, continuing an undefeated comeback to the sport.
Biles tallied 58.399 points in Antwerp, Belgium, distancing last year’s world champion, Rebeca Andrade of Brazil, by 1.633.
That means that Biles could have fallen on one of her four routines and still won. Biles’ average margin of victory was 1.388 in her previous Olympic and world all-arounds.
American Shilese Jones, last year’s silver medalist, took bronze, just 43 hundredths behind Andrade.
Jones, 21, consolidated her status as a favorite to make the five-woman Olympic team after placing 10th at the Tokyo Olympic Trials and considering quitting elite gymnastics.
Biles, undefeated in major all-arounds for a decade, tied Japan’s Kohei Uchimura for the most world all-around titles for a man or a woman. Since returning from a two-year competition absence, she has won all four of her all-around competitions.
“I was so much more nervous for [Wednesday’s] team finals, just because that’s when everything occurred, so I was a little bit traumatized from that,” said Biles, who withdrew from the Tokyo Olympic team final with the twisties after her opening vault. “I have some quotes on my phone [I looked at before the world team final]. I go through, like, breathing exercises, visualization, stuff like that.”
Her eyes welled up during the national anthem.
“I was emotional because it was my first worlds here 10 years ago, and then now my sixth one, so it is crazy,” she said, noting her 2013 Worlds breakout in Antwerp. “But I swear, I do have something in my eye that’s been bothering me for like four hours, and I cannot get it out. So while I was looking up there, it was like a combination of both.”
She became, at 26, the oldest Olympic or world women’s all-around champion since 1962 and the oldest medalist since 1966. Her 34 combined Olympic and world medals are also a record, one more than Larisa Latynina and Vitaly Scherbo.
She has the top four all-around scores in the world in this Olympic cycle, according to the Gymternet. And she could have scored higher on Friday.
Biles chose for her opening vault not her gravity-defying Yurchenko double pike, but instead a twisting Cheng, which carries fewer difficulty points. She still scored 15.1, her best on that vault in three tries this week.
Then she had minor mistakes on the uneven bars, the only apparatus where she isn’t best in the world. Her score — still a strong 14.333 — was her lowest on bars in three routines at these worlds.
She slightly lost balance on her balance beam mount, but still scored 14.433, smack in the middle of her qualifying and team final beam scores.
She also tripped late in her closing floor exercise, missed an element and appeared to laughed it off during the routine.
“I’m so stressed out,” she said moments before her final score came up. “I know my parents had a heart attack.”
Had Biles repeated her floor score from Wednesday’s team final (15.166), she would have broken her record for the largest winning margin at an Olympics or worlds since the current scoring system was introduced in 2006.
“She still has struggles,” coach Cecile Landi said. “She’s not perfect. I don’t want everyone to think it’s easy. It’s far from it.”
Minutes before Friday’s competition began, British Gymnastics announced the withdrawal of Jessica Gadirova, who was third last year and third in qualifying. It was announced as “a precautionary measure.”
Then in the first rotation, France’s Melanie de Jesus dos Santos, another medal contender, fell off bars.
Worlds finish Saturday and Sunday with individual apparatus finals (8 a.m. ET, both days, Peacock).
Biles qualified to compete in all four event finals — vault and bars on Saturday and beam and floor on Sunday. She had the top score in qualifying on vault, beam and floor.
With three medals, Biles will get up to 30 at the world championships in her career in what could be her final worlds. The No. 2 gymnast in history has 23 world medals.