GYMNASTICS: Biles expected to star and break records at FIG World Championships in Stuttgart

Simone Biles at the 2016 Olympic Games (by Agencia Brasil Fotografias via Wikipedia Commons)

The long history of the FIG World Championships dates back to 1903 for men and 1934 for women. In all that time, there has never been a gymnast like American Simone Biles.

Among the throng of 548 athletes from 92 nations competing in Stuttgart (GER), Biles is the supreme focus, and with good reason:

● 14 career World Championships gold medals, the most ever (men or women);

● 20 career World Championships total medals, tied for the most by women with Svetlana Khorkina (RUS: 1994-2003); the men’s record is 23 by Vitaly Scherbo (URS/RUS: 1991-96);

● 11 career individual World Championships gold medals, the most among women; tied with Scherbo for the most ever;

● 17 career individual World Championships medals, the most among women; the men’s record is 22 by Scherbo.

Counting the team competition, Biles could win a maximum of six medals in Stuttgart; that’s what she did last year (4-1-1) in Doha (QAT) in her return to Worlds competition after taking 2017 off.

The women’s qualifications were completed on Friday and Saturday; the men compete on Sunday and Monday. The finals:

08 October: Women’s Team
09 October: Men’s Team
10 October: Women’s All-Around
11 October: Men’s All-Around
12 October: Apparatus finals I
13 October: Apparatus finals II

Biles and all of the rest will be among high-quality company as there are more than 30 Worlds individual-event medal winners returning:

Men (19):

● Artur Dalaloyan (RUS) ~ 2018 All-Around & Floor gold; Parallel Bars bronze
● Nikita Nagornyy (RUS) ~ 2018 All-Around bronze
● Ruoteng Xiao (CHN) ~ 2018 All-Around silver & Pommel Horse gold; 2017 A-A gold
● Carlos Yulo (PHI) ~ 2018 Floor bronze
● Chih-Kai Lee (TPE) ~ 2018 Pommel Horse bronze
● Eleftherios Petrounias (GRE) ~ 2015-17-18 Rings gold
● Marco Lodadio (ITA) ~ 2018 Rings bronze
● Se Gwang Ri (PRK) ~ 2014-15-18 Vault gold
● Oleg Verniaiev (UKR) ~ 2014 Parallel Bars gold; 2015-17-18 Parallel Bars silver
Sam Mikulak (USA) ~ 2018 High Bar bronze
● Chaopan Liu (CHN) ~ 2017 All-Around silver
● Artem Dolgopyat (ISR) ~ 2017 Floor silver
Yul Moldauer (USA) ~ 2017 Floor bronze
● David Belyavskiy (RUS) ~ 2017 Pommel Horse silver; Parallel Bars bronze
● Denis Ablyazin (RUS) ~ 2015 Rings gold; 2017 Rings silver
● Igor Radivoliv (UKR) ~ 2014-17 Vault silver
● Han-Sol Kim (KOR) ~ 2017 Vault bronze
● Tin Srbic (CRO) ~ 2017 High Bar gold
● Bart Deurloo (NED) ~ 2017 High Bar bronze

Women (12):

Simone Biles (USA) ~ 2018 All-Around/Vault/Floor golds; Uneven bars silver; Beam bronze
● Nina Derwael (BEL) ~ 2018 Uneven Bars gold & 2017 Uneven Bars bronze
● Shallon Olsen (CAN) ~ 2018 Vault silver
● Alexa Moreno (MEX) ~ 2018 Vault bronze
● Elisabeth Seitz (GER) ~ 2018 Uneven Bars bronze
● Tingting Liu (CHN) ~ 2018 Beam gold
● Anne-Marie Padurariu (CAN) ~ 2018 Beam silver
● Ellie Black (CAN) ~ 2017 All-Around silver
Jade Carey (USA) ~ 2017 Vault silver and Floor silver
● Giulia Steingruber (SUI) ~ 2017 Vault bronze
● Pauline Schaefer (GER) ~ 2017 Balance Beam gold
● Sanne Wevers (NED) ~ 2015 Balance Beam silver

In the women’s qualifying round, the U.S. completely dominated the competition, leading all qualifiers at 174.205 over China (169.161) and Russia (168.080). The American squad included Biles, Carey, Kara Eaker, Sunisa Lee and Grace McCallum.

In the individual All-Around, Biles (59.432), Lee (57.166) and McCallum (55.906) went 1-2-5 in qualifying, but McCallum won’t go further since only two per country are allowed in the final.

Biles qualified in all four apparatus, winning on Beam and Floor, second on vault (behind Carey) and seventh on the Uneven Bars. Lee also qualified on Bars and Floor. Belgium’s Derwael won the qualifying round on Bars.

In terms of the Team event, the U.S. women have won four World Championships in a row – 2011-14-15-18 – and six of the last eight. The USSR leads all-time with 11 women’s Team titles, and Romania has seven. If the U.S. should win its fifth in a row, it would tie Romania for the most consecutive Team wins (1994-95-97-99-2001).

In the U.S., the Worlds will be shown on NBC, NBCSN and the NBC Olympic Channel at various times over the next week; the complete schedule is here. Look for results, including liver scoring, here.