With the team competition over and a fourth straight World Championships gold medal for the United States secured, it’s now Simone Biles’ opportunity to re-write the record book for herself.
She got an excellent start at the FIG World Championships in Doha (QAT) with her fourth All-Around title, a new record for the Worlds, where only she and Russia’s Svetlana Khorkina (1997-01-03) had won three, in an championships which dates back to 1934!
Her performance was uncharacteristically uneven, as she fell on the Vault and on the Beam and still piled up 57.491 points, well clear of Japan’s Mai Murakami (55.798) and defending champion Morgan Hurd of the U.S. (55.732).
“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.”
Hurd also had problems on the Beam, having to grab it to keep from falling, but ended up just 0.067 away from silver. “Last year it was my first time, so I did not really know what to expect,” she said afterwards. “This year I came in basically as a veteran, and I had a lot more expectations of myself.” What she proved is that her 2017 World All-Around gold was not a fluke and there is much more to come from her.
Biles, competing despite having a kidney stone that was diagnosed in Doha, did not score as well as she did in the qualifying (60.965) or in the Team Final (58.865), but it was enough to make history. She will compete in the four apparatus finals on Friday and Saturday, trying to become the first to ever win all four events at a World Championships. And that could mean:
∙ In her fourth World Championships, she now has 16 total medals, four behind the 20 collected by Russia’s Khorkina (9-8-3 from 1994-2003). If Biles were to medal in all four apparatus finals (very possible), she would equal Khorkina’s career total … all by age 21.
∙ Biles added to her own record for the most World Championships golds, as the All-Around was her 12th win. Khorkina, Larisa Latynina (URS: 1954-66) and Gina Gogean (ROU: 1993-97) each won nine.
∙ In terms of individual-event medals – All-Around and the apparatus – Biles now has 13 (9-2-2) and has moved into second place all-time. If she should medal in all four apparatus finals, she would surpass Khorkina’s total of 16. Biles and Khorkina both now have nine golds in individual events and Biles will likely surpass her, unless the kidney stone fells her.
As noted, Biles has qualified for all four event finals; the other U.S. entries are Hurd in Uneven Bars and Floor and Kara Eaker on the Beam. No other gymnast qualified for more than two apparatus finals, other than Biles.
In the men’s All-Around, China’s defending champion Ruoteng Xiao and Russia’s Artur Dalaloyan dueled through all six events and even after all that, were still tied at 87.598. The tie-breaking procedure counts only the five highest scores and that gave the gold to Dalaloyan, 74.198 to 73.465.
“I had only one goal, and that was to perform my job from beginning to end without mistakes,” said the winner. “I’m just so happy. I can’t believe it yet. I need to probably go to my hotel, take a deep breath and realize that yes, I won this championship.”
It was the first Worlds win for Russia in the men’s All-Around since Nikolai Kryukov in 1999, and the first time that Russians won two men’s All-Around medals ever (Soviet men swept the All-Around in their last appearance as a team in the 1991 Worlds, and two other times previously).
A very tight race for third had American Sam Mikulak in place for a bronze medal, but missed a re-grip the Horizontal Bar on the final rotation, dangled for a moment and even though he recovered to finish, he dropped to fifth place. Russia’s Nikita Nagornyy won the bronze instead, with 86.331 points; Mikulak ended with 85.273.
“I thought this was my year. I felt so good for it,” said Mikulik. “I had done this a million times and I was so ready for every single thing, and it showed until high bar. I’ll probably watch that routine like a million times just to make sure that doesn’t happen again. I used to not watch [routines with errors], but I think as you get older you’ve got to learn from your mistakes. Things hurt, but if you don’t let it hurt, you’re not going to get over it and you’re not going to get better.”
The remaining schedule:
∙ 02 November: Apparatus finals
(Men: Floor/Pommel Horse/Rings; Women: Vault/Uneven Bars)
∙ 03 November: Apparatus finals
(Men: Vault/Parallel Bars/Horizontal Bar; Women: Beam/Floor)
Mikulak isn’t done, and will compete in the individual finals on the weekend on Floor, Pommel Horse, Parallel Bars and Horizontal Bar. Yul Moldauer, who finished 12th in the All-Around, qualified for the individual final on Floor.
The NBC Olympic Channel has continuing Worlds coverage from Doha. Summaries so far:
FIG World Artistic Championships
Doha (QAT) ~ 25 October-3 November 2018
(Full results here)
Team Qualifications (top 8 qualify for Final): 1. Russia, 258.402; 2. China., 257.836; 3. Japan, 253.312; 4. United States, 250.362; 5. Great Britain, 249.836; 6. Brazil, 246.961; 7. Netherlands, 245.663; 8. Switzerland, 245.186.
Team Final: 1. China (Shudi Deng, Chaopan Lin, Wei Sun, Ruoteng Xiao, Jingyuan Zou)), 256.634; 2. Russia (David Belyavskiy, Artur Dalaloyan, Nikolai Kuksenkov, mitrii Lankin, Nikita Nagornyy), 256.585; 3. Japan (Kazuma Kaya, Kenzo Shirai, Yusuke Tanaka, Wataru Tanigawa, Kohei Uchimura), 253.744; 4. United States (Sam Mikulak, Akash Modi, Yul Moldauer, Colin van Wicklen, Alec Yoder), 251.994; 5. Great Britain, 248.628; 6. Switzerland, 244.294; 7. Brazil, 243.994; 8. Netherlands, 240.660.
All-Around Qualifications (top 24 qualify for Final): 1. Ruoteng Xiao (CHN), 87.332; 2. Nikita Nagornyy (RUS), 87.098; 3. Sam Mikulak (USA), 86.598; 4. Artur Dalaloyan (RUS), 84.572; 5. Wei Sun (CHN), 84.007; 6. Kenzo Shirai (JPN), 83.864; 7. James Hall (GBR), 83.198; 8. Kazuma Kaya (JPN), 82.915. Also: 17. Yul Moldauer (USA), 80.365.
All-Around Final (limit 2 per country): 1. Dalaloyan (RUS), 87.598; 2. Xiao (CHN), 87.598; 3. Nagornyy (RUS), 86.331; 4. Sun (CHN), 85.598; 5. Mikulak (USA), 85.273; 6. Kaya (JPN), 84.765; 7. Shirai (JPN), 84.531; 8. Hall (GBR), 84.298. Also: 12. Moldauer (USA), 81.932.
Team Qualifications (top 8 qualify for Final): 1. United States, 174.429; 2. Russia, 165.497; 3. China, 165.196; 4. Canada, 163.897; 5. Brazil, 162.529; 6. Japan, 162.180; 7. France, 161.629; 8. Germany, 161.071.
Team Final: 1. United States (Simone Biles, Riley McCusker, Morgan Hurd, Kara Eaker, Grace McCallum), 171.629; 2. Russia (Liliia Akhaimova, Irina Alekseeva, Angelina Melnikova, Aliia Mustafina, Angelina Simakova), 162.863; 4. China (Yile Chen, Tingting Liu, Jinru Liu, Huan Luo, Jin Zhang), 162.396; 4. Canada, 161.644; 5. France, 161.294; 6. Japan, 160.262; 7. Brazil, 159.830; 8. Germany, 159.428.
All-Around Qualifications (top 24 qualify for Final): 1. Simone Biles (USA), 60.965; 2. Morgan Hurd (USA), 56.465; 3. Mai Murakami (JPN), 55.632; 4. Nina Derwael (BEL), 55.564; 5. Angelina Melnikova (RUS), 55.465; 6. Ellie Black (CAN), 54.999; 7. Melanie de Jesus dos Santos (FRA), 54.798; 8. Riley McCusker (USA), 54.765.
All-Around Final (limit 2 per country): 1. Biles (USA), 57.491; 2. Murakami (JPN), 55.798; 3. Hurd (USA), 55.732; 4. Derwael (BEL), 55.699; 5. Melnikova (RUS), 55.698; 6. De Jesus dos Santos (FRA), 55.599; 7. Chen (CHN), 54.632; 8. Flavia Saraiva (BRA), 54.366.