Simone Biles, U.S. women’s gymnastics team win record world championships title
Simone Biles and the U.S. women’s gymnastics team won a record-breaking seventh consecutive world title despite being down an athlete due to injury.
Biles, plus Shilese Jones, Leanne Wong and Skye Blakely combined for 167.729 points in Antwerp, Belgium, on Wednesday.
They prevailed by a closer-than-expected but significant 2.199 over Brazil, which became the first South American nation to win an Olympic or world team medal.
France earned bronze for its first Olympic or world team medal since 1950, a year before it hosts the Paris Games.
The American women won every world team title dating to 2011, and this team is the most decorated ever. They broke their tie with China’s men (2003 through 2014) for the most consecutive golds, doing so with their smallest margin of victory during this streak.
“It was not our best day,” Biles said. “That was a little bit close watching those standings.”
Biles earned her record-extending 20th world championships gold medal, exactly 10 years after her first gold and 800 days after withdrawing from the Tokyo Olympic team final after her opening vault with the twisties.
She also became, at 26, the oldest U.S. woman to ever win a world championships medal.
In her first team final since Tokyo, Biles and the U.S. again began on vault. She hit a different twisting vault than she tried in Tokyo.
She followed with excellent balance beam and uneven bars routines before closing the final out on floor exercise with the single highest score of the night. Biles could have fallen on the last routine (maybe even twice) and still clinched the gold.
Minutes before the competition, American Joscelyn Roberson withdrew after her left ankle “popped” on a warm-up vault landing.
Roberson, a 17-year-old worlds rookie, later cheered teammates on crutches with her left leg wrapped from just below the knee to her toes. She didn’t have a diagnosis but said the ankle was “feeling good” and that the wrapping was for safety.
“I felt like half of me was gone out there,” Biles said of her training partner’s absence. “Everyone kind of got a little bit frazzled. … You saw the strength and the courage of our team to keep going.”
Wong, who was originally slated to compete on one apparatus, also subbed in for Roberson on her two events of vault and floor.
Biles and Jones next have Friday’s all-around final.
All of the all-around medal favorites did all four events in the team final, with Biles posting the top score by 1.633.
Biles, undefeated in all-arounds for a decade, can win the event for a sixth time to tie the record for either gender held by Japanese man Kohei Uchimura.
Jones won silver last year behind Brazilian Rebeca Andrade in Biles’ absence.
Worlds continue Thursday with the men’s all-around final where Japan’s Daiki Hashimoto is the favorite (1:30 p.m. ET, Peacock).