Cel­e­bra­tions all-round as Biles claims her third gold

Amer­i­can makes his­tory by com­plet­ing a hat-trick of world ti­tle wins af­ter a thrilling Hy­dro fi­nal


IF THE 6,500-strong crowd packed into the sold-out SSE Hy­dro were look­ing for a nail-bit­ing thriller, then the show­down be­tween USA’s Si­mone Biles and Gabby Dou­glas most cer­tainly didn’t dis­ap­point.

Biles claimed gold at the World Gym­nas­tics Cham­pi­onships in Glas­gow to make his­tory by be­com­ing the first woman to win three in­di­vid­ual all-around ti­tles in suc­ces­sion.

There were, how­ever, signs that the USA’s golden girl was per­haps feel­ing the pres­sure when she had a heart­stop­ping fall for­ward on to the beam that prompted a gasp of shock around the arena.

Nor was her com­pa­triot, the reign­ing Olympic cham­pion Dou­glas, go­ing to go down with­out a fight. This is a young woman known for her dogged tenac­ity and Dou­glas is never bet­ter than when the odds are stacked against her.

In the end, though, she had to set­tle for sil­ver with Biles soar­ing into the sport­ing his­tory books.

Their fierce duel was mes­meris­ing to watch, tee­ing up an edge-of-the-seat cli­max on the floor. Go­ing into the fi­nal ro­ta­tion, Biles led by 0.400 of a mark. In gym­nas­tics, that slim mar­gin can be eas­ily swal­lowed up.

When Biles, the adrenalin clearly cours­ing through her veins, took a gi­ant step out of bounds on one of her tum­bling passes there was much fran­tic grap­pling with men­tal arith­metic among the as­sem­bled masses.

But with a far higher start value than Dou­glas, the judges were able to for­give Biles her er­ror.

Five-time Euro­pean cham­pion Larisa Ior­dache took bronze, a medal that will go some way to salv­ing bruised pride af­ter the apoc­a­lyp­tic im­plo­sion of the Ro­ma­nian team dur­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion last Fri­day.

The great Na­dia Co­maneci, the first woman to score a per­fect 10.00 with her rou­tine at the 1976 Olympic Games, has re­port­edly been in the gym coach­ing her coun­try­women in a bid to raise morale.

Gold is a colour that clearly suits Biles. The pint-sized pow­er­house al­ready had seven world medals of that shade to her name, in­clud­ing one from the stel­lar women’s team vic­tory by USA ear­lier this week.

Put sim­ply, even on a bad day at the of­fice Biles can do things no other gym­nast can.

Too young to be part of the USA women’s team that took gold at Lon­don 2012, she burst on to the in­ter­na­tional scene a year later and has re­mained top of the global gym­nas­tics peck­ing or­der ever since. Her ca­reer to­tal of 11 world medals breaks the US record, surpassing com­pa­triot Ali­cia Sacra­mone.

Nor have we seen the last of Biles at th­ese World Cham­pi­onships. She will be back in the ap­pa­ra­tus fi­nals at the week­end with vault to­mor­row fol­lowed by beam and floor on Sun­day.

Great Bri­tain’s Ruby Har­rold and Amy Tin­kler fin­ished in 22nd and 23rd places re­spec­tively but leave Glas­gow with a his­toric team bronze and a cov­eted qual­i­fi­ca­tion spot for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

To­day will see Ja­pan’s “su­per­man” Ko­hei Uchimura, the five-time world and reign­ing Olympic all-around gold medal­list, be­gin his bid for a record sixth con­sec­u­tive ti­tle.

Uchimura took his first world team gold on Wed­nes­day, re­al­is­ing a much­longed for am­bi­tion. It was also a vic­tory that Ja­pan had waited 37 years for .

In ac­tion for Great Bri­tain will be Scot Daniel Purvis and Max Whit­lock, who took sil­ver in the men’s all-around in Nan­ning last year.

Euro­pean all-around and world par­al­lel bars cham­pion Oleg Ver­ni­aiev of Ukraine was the clos­est chal­lenger to Uchimura in qual­i­fi­ca­tion post­ing 90.131, only 0.433 be­hind.

Purvis fin­ished third over­all in quali­fy­ing with Whit­lock, af­ter a fall on high bar, down in ninth. Whit­lock, how­ever, was the only Bri­ton to com­pete on all six pieces of ap­pa­ra­tus dur­ing the team fi­nal.

Both Great Bri­tain men will un­doubt­edly feel buoyed by that his­tory-mak­ing team sil­ver in front of an ador­ing home crowd on Wed­nes­day.

Other names likely to be in con­tention are USA’s Danell Leyva and Chi­nese duo Shudi Deng and Ruoteng Xiao.

RECORD BREAKER: Si­mone Biles pre­tends to take a bite out of her gold medal af­ter vic­tory last night at the SSE Hy­dro.

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