Led by Simone Biles, US gymnasts win their seventh consecutive world title

ANTWERP, Belgium – Months ago, before the United States decided which gymnasts to send here to the world championships, the outcome of the women’s team final seemed certain. Gold medals have become virtually inevitable for the Americans as they enter the race with a significant lead thanks to their difficult routines and exceptional performances from their leader Simone Biles. So winning is simply the expectation.

The U.S. women’s dominance continued Wednesday at the Sportpaleis, where they secured an unprecedented seventh consecutive team title at the World Cup. They had to overcome several mistakes and an injury, but their familiar cushion was more than enough to ensure they would finish at the top of the podium.

The Americans’ winning streak at the world championships began in 2011 and now includes five teams led by Biles, but the margin this year was narrower than the previous six wins. The United States (167.729) finished 2,199 points ahead of second-place Brazil (165.530) – still a wide gap in a sport where competitors are separated by fractions of a point, but the gap between gold and Silver is smaller than the dominance of American deals in the recent past.

Other groups of U.S. gymnasts have achieved the same result at the world championships, but this team “had the most grit, courage and fight, especially after everything that transpired on the floor,” Biles said. “… We had so many different emotions throughout the day, and it wasn’t the best day for Team USA.”

Highlights from the women’s team final at the World Cup

The American women are the standard-bearers, but after Joscelyn Roberson suffered a left leg injury warming up for Wednesday’s first rotation, Leanne Wong was unexpectedly forced to step in on vault and floor. Wong struggled through her beam exercise. Biles was steady as always, but her scores weren’t as high as they could be because she chose not to perform her most difficult jump, the Yurchenko double pike, and she missed a connection on the beam.

But when the United States needed her to complete a floor exercise to take gold, Biles was at her best. Competing internationally for the first time since a mental block led to disappointment at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Biles has thrived here. On Wednesday, their landings on difficult dive passes were precise and controlled. With a performance of 15.166, the U.S. team’s best performance against unequal competition, she ensured the Americans would achieve a positive result.

This gold is Biles’ 33rd world or Olympic medal, tying the gymnastics record held by Vitaly Scherbo, who represented the Soviet Union, the unified Russian team and Belarus in the 1990s. By the end of the week, Biles will likely overtake Scherbo.

“I think every time you’re crowned world champion it feels a little different,” Biles said. “I’m still surprised that I’m still going. …It feels just as good as the first one just because we broke records. We came together. We had a fight. ”

Team competitions can be unpredictable because all routines – and all mistakes – count towards the final result. But thanks largely to Biles, the American women are so far above their peers that they enter the race as clear favorites and are almost certain to win, barring a surprise collapse. Even Wednesday’s mistakes weren’t enough to jeopardize the team’s gold hopes.

The races for silver and bronze were more dramatic. Great Britain, last year’s silver medalist, tripped over several devices, leaving a gap on the podium. Brazil, which had never won a World Championships or Olympic medal as a team, leaned on its star, reigning world all-around champion Rebeca Andrade. Her floor routine was excellent and then she mastered her difficult jump to give her country a silver medal breakthrough.

US men’s gymnastics makes a breakthrough at the World Championships and takes bronze

China, which placed fourth, was on the podium for most of the competition, but its low difficulty scores on vault, the final apparatus, allowed France to gain an edge. The medal went to Melanie de Jesus dos Santos, who trains at the club Biles’ family owns in Texas, and she delivered a standout performance on beam in the team’s final routine of the competition. Her coach Cecile Landi, who competed for France at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, watched that performance as Biles prepared to hit the floor. Landi’s arms shot into the air with joy as de Jesus dos Santos made her dismount and secured the medal, France’s first medal as a team since 1950.

Biles then followed with her own standout moment, doing her part to keep the Americans’ winning streak alive. This contest wasn’t an absolute highlight for the Americans, but “we did what we had to do tonight,” said Shilese Jones.

In the early years of their winning streak, the Americans were never less than three points ahead of the silver medalists. The margin was smaller than usual last year (3.201 points) – when Skye Blakely fell on beam and Biles did not return to competition – and was slightly smaller this time.

At times over the past decade, the U.S. women have muscled their way through major competitions with one striking routine after another, providing obvious evidence of their dominance. But a shaky performance that ends with a gold medal provides a different kind of optimism: It proves that Americans can make mistakes and still prevail.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/2023/10/04/us-women-win-seventh-straight-gymnastics-world-championship/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_homepage Led by Simone Biles, US gymnasts win their seventh consecutive world title

Ian Walker

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