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Simone Biles wins women’s all-around final to secure record 21st world championship gold medal

Biles is returning to the world stage for the first time since Tokyo 2020.
Naomi Baker/Getty Images
Biles is returning to the world stage for the first time since Tokyo 2020.

By Ben Morse, CNN

(CNN) — Simone Biles continued to make history at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, winning the women’s individual all-around final on Friday to secure her 21st world championship gold medal.

The 26-year-old American put on another near-perfect display in Antwerp, Belgium, to win her sixth all-around title at world championships, as she finished ahead of Rebeca Andrade in second place and Shilese Jones in third.

Biles flashed big smiles and hugs with teammates and coaches when her final, winning score was revealed.

She then wiped away tears from her eyes while the US national anthem played.

“I was emotional because it was my first worlds here 10 years ago and now my sixth one, so it is crazy, but I swear I do have something in my eye that’s been bothering me for like four hours and I cannot get it out,” Biles told reporters. “So while I was looking up there, it was like a combination of both.”

By winning gold, she also became the most decorated female or male gymnast ever, surpassing Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo’s record of 33 overall medals across both the Olympics and the world championships.

Biles has already won one gold medal at the 2023 world championships, playing a starring role in the US women’s team gold in the team final on Wednesday, and has an opportunity to win four more.

She is set to compete in the women’s vault and uneven bars finals on Saturday, before the balance beam and floor exercise finals on Sunday.

Amazing tumbles and a stumble

Biles, who has five moves in the sport named after her such is her ability to push the boundaries, began the all-around final on the vault, delivering an impressive display which was graded 15.1, 5.6 for difficulty and 9.5 for execution.

She kept up the pressure on her rivals with 14.333 on the uneven bars and then 14.433 on the beam.

Andrade produced a superb final floor routine, but Biles’ riposte was elegant, precise and explosive that drew gasps from the crowd for her tumbling and despite a small stumble, ensured the American took gold.

The surprise of the unforced error wasn’t lost on Biles as a slight look of shock appeared on her face, before a beaming smile returned.

Biles finished with a total score of 58.399 over her four apparatus, 1.633 ahead of Andrade’s 56.766 points.

Already the most decorated gymnast in US history, Biles has now won 27 world championship medals – 21 gold, three silver and three bronze.

Having spent two years away from the sport after pulling out of several events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games suffering from what is known as the “twisties” – a mental block causing a gymnast to lose track of their position in midair – what Biles has achieved in Antwerp is remarkable.

By competing in Belgium, Biles became the first woman to represent the US at six artistic world gymnastics championships.

She made history on the opening day when she finished first in the women’s all-around qualification, becoming the first woman to land the Yurchenko double pike vault – a high-difficulty skill historically only done by men – at an international competition.

On Wednesday, Biles then produced a brilliant floor routine to help the US win a seventh consecutive gold medal in the women’s team final.

Former US gymnast Dominique Dawes told CNN This Morning on Thursday that what Biles is achieving in Belgium is “spectacular.”

“What she’s doing, I am in complete awe of. My kids are huge fans of Simone Biles and what I love is that she’s enjoying this journey,” said Dawes.

“She’s smiling along the way. She’s an amazing teammate, and she’s going to leave a lasting impact.”

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