Publication date : 01/11/2018
Despite uncharacteristic errors, Olympic champion Simone Biles (USA) continued her golden comeback by winning a record fourth World All-around title Thursday at the 2018 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Doha (QAT). Silver medallist Mai Murakami made her own history for Japan while defending world champion Morgan Hurd (USA) claimed bronze.
Biles, who won three world all-around titles from 2013-2015, was previously tied with Svetlana Khorkina (RUS), who won in 1997, 2001 and 2003. Biles now has 16 world championships medals, second only to Khorkina's 20, and has more world gold medals than any other female gymnast with 12.
Biles extends golden legacy
Biles shocked herself and the crowd with two falls, the first falls from the apparatus for her at the world and Olympic level. In the first rotation, she sat down the new vault she debuted in Doha, finding herself in an unusual position of having to come from behind with a 14.533, that was only the sixth-best score of the day on the event. After a strong routine on Uneven Bars, she fell off beam on her barani salto. She refused to water down her difficulty on her final event, Floor Exercise, where she scored 15.000, a full point ahead of anyone else on the event.
Biles, who won the qualification round by 4.5 points, still managed to win by a comfortable margin, 57.491-55.798. Despite the historic finish, Biles said she was disappointed in herself and did not blame her mistakes on her health, even though she has suffered from a painful kidney stone in Doha.
"It was a tough day," she said. "I didn't know if I was going to pull it off today, and then I started doubting myself and I tried to track back to training and see how well that went. I tried to just think of that. You should always fall back on training because I've had such good training here."
Murakami makes history with silver
Murakami claimed the All-around silver with four solid routines, with scores between 13.566 on Uneven Bars and 14.566 on Vault. She was most focussed on Balance Beam, where she lost the gold medal in last year's world All-around final with a fall on her turn. This year she finished on Floor Exercise, where she is the reigning world champion, and was in tears after nearly falling on her quadruple turn. But her score of 14.000 was just enough to guarantee her a medal with only the Americans left, and she held on for silver.
"I just wanted to go four-for-four," Murakami said, "and I did and it brought the silver medal. And I wanted to finish with a smile."
Murakami's medal is the third All-around medal for the Japanese women and the first silver following bronzes from Keiko Ikeda in 1962 and Koko Tsurumi in 2009.
Hurd happy with bronze
Hurd, the surprise winner of the 2017 World Championships in Montreal, hit three of four events. She grabbed the early lead with a strong double-twisting Yurchenko on Vault and showed excellent execution on Uneven Bars. But she also struggled on Balance Beam with a large balance break on her standing full twist and a near fall on her side aerial, in which she was forced to grab the Beam to stay on. Needing a 13.900 on Floor Exercise to pass Murakami, Hurd scored 13.866 to take bronze, her fourth world medal. Though disappointed in her mistake, she was all smiles afterward.
Hurd blamed her Beam error on "trying to be too perfect" and said it was difficult to compare to her first and second world championships.
"It is kind of hard to say because they are very different circumstances," said Hurd, who tallied 55.732. "Last year it was my first time, so I did not really know what to expect. This year I came in basically as a veteran, and I had a lot more expectations of myself."
Crowded at the top
The close competition saw the silver medallist and the gymnasts ranked fourth, fifth and sixth separated by just .199.
Nina Derwael (BEL), fourth, had a chance at a medal thanks to her 15.100 on Uneven Bars, the highest score of the day, but a weak vault kept her off the podium by .034. Russia's Angelina Melnikova stepped out of bounds on Floor Exercise, landing her in fifth place instead of in the medals. France's Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos took a large hop on her vault in the final rotation that dropped her to sixth.
Following the competition, Melnikova and compatriot Artur Dalaloyan, who won the men's All-around title on Wednesday, were awarded the Longines Prize for Elegance.
Competition continues Friday in Doha with the first of two days of apparatus finals.