Simone Biles clinches world team spot, set to tie Kerri Strug record
Simone Biles won a closer-than-expected all-around at the U.S. selection camp for the world championships, clinching a spot on her fifth straight world team next month in Stuttgart, Germany.
Biles, undefeated in official all-around competition for six years, will tie Kerri Strug as the only U.S. women to compete at worlds in five different years. It could be Biles’ last worlds, as whether she continues beyond the Tokyo Olympics is unknown.
Biles tallied 58.55 points to prevail by .35 over Sunisa Lee. Biles had the top score on floor exercise and vault among 15 gymnasts competing at Evo Athletics in Sarasota, Fla. Her major visible error was falling on her uneven bars dismount. She opened on floor with the triple-double tumbling pass, which she debuted at the national championships in August.
Biles claimed the lone automatic world team spot by winning the all-around. The rest will be chosen via committee. Five more women will be named to the world championships team after another day of non-all-around competition on Monday. One will later be designated alternate.
Whoever the U.S. sends will be favored to extend a streak of six straight Olympic or world team titles dating to 2011, the longest reign by one nation since the Soviets in the 1970s.
The other four members of the 2018 team were invited to the selection camp: 2017 World all-around champion Morgan Hurd, Riley McCusker, Grace McCallum and Kara Eaker. As was Lee, the distant runner-up to Biles at nationals in August, who eyes her first worlds. McCusker withdrew Saturday due to injury.
Lee and Eaker starred out of that group on Sunday. Lee again finished second to Biles, this time by a margin closer than any of Biles’ last five U.S. all-around titles.
Eaker scored 57.1 points, including a leading 15.2 on balance beam. Her total would have placed second to Biles on both days of competition at the U.S. Championships, where Eaker placed 10th with a 54.65 and a 53.45.
Biles is up to 20 world championships medals after earning six last year, including four golds. She is three shy of the total medals record held by retired Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo.
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