UN­PAR­AL­LELED

U.S. wins all-around; Biles sets mark for most world medals

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Front Page -

Si­mone Biles, of the United States, warms up on the un­even bars Tues­day dur­ing the women’s team fi­nal at the gym­nas­tics world cham­pi­onships in Stuttgart, Ger­many. Biles led the U.S. women’s team to its fifth con­sec­u­tive world cham­pi­onship ti­tle. She also gained her 21st medal at the world cham­pi­onships, most for a fe­male gym­nast. Move cov­er­age in Sports,

STUTTGART, Ger­many — Si­mone Biles won a record 21st medal at the world gym­nas­tics cham­pi­onships Tues­day as the United States re­tained its women’s team al­laround ti­tle.

It was Biles’ 15th ca­reer gold and broke a tie with Rus­sian gym­nast Svet­lana Khork­ina for the most medals over­all by a wo­man at the world cham­pi­onships. She’s now two short of Vi­taly Scherbo’s all-time record of 23 among men or women.

“Every year it feels bet­ter and bet­ter just be­cause we’re adding to the legacy,” Biles said. “I feel like I never think of records. I just go out there and do what I came to do, which is com­pete for the coun­try.”

The U.S. team scored 172.330 points to beat sec­ond­place Rus­sia by 5.801 points and win its sev­enth con­sec­u­tive team ti­tle at an Olympics or world cham­pi­onships.

The re­ward for win­ning was a bat­tery-pow­ered medal that lights up when it senses move­ment. Biles called it “the sick­est medal we’ve ever had.”

Biles posted the best in­di­vid­ual scores on the vault, bal­ance beam and floor.

“I think if I do the rou­tine that I did tonight I’ll be more than happy” in Thurs­day’s in­di­vid­ual all-around fi­nal, she said.

A fall for Su­nisa Lee on bal­ance beam in her world cham­pi­onship de­but and a fum­bled rou­tine from Grace McCal­lum on the un­even bars left the U.S. with room for im­prove­ment, though both were strong on other ap­pa­ra­tus.

“It’s just so sur­real to come out here and end up on top with the strength of the team that we have, even af­ter hav­ing a cou­ple falls out there,” Biles said.

Rus­sia be­came the first team to get within six points of the U.S. since China at the 2015 world cham­pi­onships, some­thing which pleased Rus­sian gym­nast An­gelina Mel­nikova.

“We’re happy that we got se­cond be­cause we can’t bat­tle the Amer­i­cans just yet, but to­day the gap was sig­nif­i­cantly lower than at the last few world cham­pi­onships,” Mel­nikova said.

Biles said other teams were “most def­i­nitely” clos­ing in on the U.S.

“All of the teams have im­proved their dif­fi­culty over the last quad, and I think that’s re­ally ex­cit­ing to see the strength that they have.”

Lee, a 16-year-old from St. Paul, Minn., was com­pet­ing in her first world cham­pi­onships af­ter plac­ing se­cond be­hind Biles at U.S. na­tion­als in Au­gust. She com­peted on the un­even bars, bal­ance beam and floor and showed re­silience to re­cover from

slip­ping off the beam — say­ing “the nerves got to me” af­ter a long wait at the ap­pa­ra­tus — to post the day’s thirdbest score on the floor be­hind Biles and fel­low Amer­i­can Jade Carey.

Af­ter a whirl­wind two months, Lee is still adapt­ing to be­ing on the U.S. na­tional team along­side ath­letes like Biles.

“A bunch of them have been help­ing me a lot. Just be­cause I’m the rookie, they’ve been giv­ing me a lot of pep talks and stuff like that,” she said. “I look up to Si­mone so much. She’s su­per in­spir­ing and such an amaz­ing gym­nast. It’s def­i­nitely been a crazy ride and I’m su­per ex­cited to com­pete in the all-around with her.”

Italy ended its 69-year wait for a women’s team medal with bronze, as China failed to make the podium for the first time since the 2003 world cham­pi­onships. A fall on the beam mount by Italy’s last gym­nast, Elisa Io­rio, made for a tense fin­ish but she re­cov­ered to score enough to stay ahead of China by 0.536 points.

It was a big re­cov­ery for Italy, which qual­i­fied in last place for the fi­nal.

“I feel like I never think of records. I just go out there and do what I came to do, which is com­pete for the coun­try.” — Si­mone Biles

Matthias Schrader/As­so­ci­ated Press

As­so­ci­ated Press

Si­mone Biles per­forms on the floor in the women’s team fi­nal Tues­day at the Gym­nas­tics World Cham­pi­onships in Stuttgart, Ger­many. lead­ing the United States to the all-around ti­tle. Rus­sia fin­ished se­cond, nearly six points be­hind.

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