More gold for Biles

Six-medal haul from Doha gives gym­nast record 14 world golds

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - SPORTS SUNDAY - By David Bar­ron STAFF WRITER david.bar­ron@chron.com twit­ter.com/df­bar­ron

Si­mone Biles was, from time to time Satur­day at the world gym­nas­tics cham­pi­onships, as­ton­ish­ing, im­per­fect, sleepy, proud, de­fi­ant and, once again, a cham­pion of un­prece­dented pro­por­tions.

Biles, 21, of Spring, wrapped up a week in Doha, Qatar, by win­ning a gold medal on floor ex­er­cise and a bronze on bal­ance beam, per­form­ing for a fifth day while deal­ing with the dis­com­fort of a kid­ney stone that re­quired a late-night emer­gency room visit last week­end.

A year and a day re­moved from her re­turn to train­ing af­ter a 14-month lay­off in the wake of the 2016 Olympics, she will re­turn to Texas with six medals — four golds with the USA Gym­nas­tics women’s team, in the al­laround, on floor and vault, a sil­ver on un­even bars, her first world medal in that event, and a bronze on beam.

Biles is the fourth woman to medal in all six events in world or Olympic com­pe­ti­tion and the first to do so since Elena Shushunova of the Soviet Union in 1987. With her six-medal haul from Doha, she has 14 world gold medals, a record for any gym­nast, and 20 medals over­all, ty­ing Svet­lana Khork­ina of Rus­sia for first place among fe­male gym­nasts.

“I’m happy to be done,” Biles said in a post-event in­ter­view pro­vided by USA Gym­nas­tics. “I’m proud of my per­for­mances here. I wish some of them would have been bet­ter, but I’m re­ally proud of the out­come.”

Strug­gled on bal­ance beam

As has been the case for Biles in Doha, Satur­day was a mixed bag by her ad­mit­tedly un­prece­dented stan­dards. She con­tin­ued her re­cent strug­gles on bal­ance beam with a col­lec­tion of form breaks that dropped her score to 13.6 with an un­com­monly low 7.4 ex­e­cu­tion score on a 10-point scale.

Still, Biles re­mained in the lead mid­way through the com­pe­ti­tion un­til Anne-Marie Padu­rariu of Canada sur­passed her with a score of 14.1 that in-cluded a seven-tenths edge over Biles for ex­e­cu­tion. Liu Tingt­ing of China, the last of nine com­peti­tors, won the gold medal at 14.533.

Biles smiled for the cam­eras af­ter the event but had a tart re­sponse to her crit­ics on Twit­ter a few min­utes later, while wait­ing for her next com­pe­ti­tion.

“Just say­ing, I get to de­cide when I have a dis­ap­point­ing per­for­mance. Not y’all,” she wrote. “Over a year out of the sport. Barely a year back in and my first big com­pe­ti­tion. I’m proud of my­self !”

Asked af­ter­ward about her re­sponse, she said, “It’s up­set­ting to me when-ever I see all the tweets af­ter I do a per­for­mance of how dis­ap­pointed they are in me. It’s not fair, be­cause they can’t set ex­pec­ta­tions on me. I have to set those for my­self, so it’s re­ally hard see­ing all of those.”

As for her per­for­mance, she said, “I’m just happy that I stayed on the beam. Go­ing into this world cham­pi­onships, I wasn’t as con­fi­dent as I used to be on beam. So this is a step for­ward, and hope­fully from here on out it can only im­prove.”

A few min­utes af­ter her Twit­ter re­sponse, Biles was back in cam­era range, un­leash­ing an enor­mous yawn, fol­lowed by an ex­change of laugh­ter with team­mate Mor­gan Hurd, as the lens scanned the nine fi­nal­ists pre­par­ing for the women’s floor ex­er­cise fi­nal.

She was back on form for floor, with the only sig­nif­i­cant blem­ish be­ing a step out of bounds on her third tum­bling pass. Her score of 14.933 led Hurd by a full point. Mai Mu­rakami of Japan was third at 13.866.

Biles said she was most pleased for her sil­ver medal on bars, the event in which she has shown the most im­prove­ment since her re­turn, and looks for­ward to a va­ca­tion af­ter a doc­tor’s ap­point­ment upon her re­turn to Hous­ton to treat the pesky kid­ney stone.

Proud to have sur­vived

Asked to sum up her week at worlds, she said, “I’m most proud that I’m here, I made all the event fi­nals, medaled in all the events and I sur­vived.”

Also Satur­day, five-time USA Gym­nas­tics men’s na­tional cham­pion Sam Miku-lak win the first world cham­pi­onships medal of his ca­reer with a bronze per­for­mance on high bar.

Miku­lak ear­lier fin­ished fourth with the U.S. men’s team, fifth in the all-around, fourth on pom­mel horse, sev­enth on floor and, in his first fi-nal Satur­day, fourth on par­al­lel bars.

Down to his last shot on high bar, how­ever, Miku­lak had the best ex­e­cu­tion score of the nine fi­nal­ists for a score of 14.533. Epke Zon­der­land of the Nether­lands won at 15.1, three-tenths of a point ahead of six-time world all-around cham­pion Ko­hei Uchimura of Japan.

Karim Jaa­far / AFP/Getty Im­ages

Si­mone Biles com­petes in the floor ex­er­cise fi­nal dur­ing the 2018 FIG Artis­tic Gym­nas­tics Cham­pi­onships at Doha, Qatar.

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