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Simone Biles says winning her 20th world title feels ‘different’ but ‘exciting’

By Ben Church, CNN

(CNN) — Simone Biles says winning her 20th world championship gold medal feels “just as good as the first one” as the American continues to impress on her comeback to the sport.

On Wednesday, Biles played a key role in a historic victory for the US in the women’s team final at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp, Belgium.

Her impressive floor routine ensured the US won its seventh consecutive world title in the women’s team discipline.

Her latest world title comes exactly 10 years after Biles won her first at the same venue in 2013.

“I think each and every time you are crowned world champion, it feels a little bit different,” Biles told Heath Thorpe, via Gymnastics Now, after clinching her latest gold medal.

“I mean I’m still surprised that I’m still going. I’m 26, I’m a little bit older, so it feels just as good as the first one. Just because we broke records, we came together, we had fight. It’s different, but it’s exciting.”

‘Everything feels different’

At 26, Biles is considered a veteran of the sport and has the medals to match.

As the most decorated gymnast in US history, she has now won 26 world championship medals – 20 gold, three silver and three bronze.

The American gymnast has also tied Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo with the most overall medals (33) across the Olympics and the world championships.

“I’m not like 16 anymore. I’m 26. Everything feels different. I feel like I’m thinking a little bit more about my gymnastics. It’s not so carefree,” said Biles.

By competing in Antwerp this time around, Biles became the first woman to represent the US at six artistic world gymnastics championships.

Even before Wednesday’s gold medal, it had already been an impressive competition for Biles, who made history on the opening day of the competition when she finished first in the women’s all-around qualification.

In the process, she became the first woman to land the Yurchenko double pike vault – a high-difficulty skill historically only done by men – at an international competition.


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.”

Dawes is a three-time Olympian and part of the “Magnificent Seven” – the first American team to win a gold medal in women’s gymnastics at the 1996 Olympics.

The now retired gymnast said she was enjoying watching the US team express themselves on the world stage, an attitude that she credits Biles with fostering.

“They are bonding. They are friends. They are laughing, really enjoying this and there’s a significant amount of pressure on them,” Dawes said.

“I know being an Olympian three different times that you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. You’re representing your country and you recognize that millions and billions of people are watching you.

“However, they’re smiling. They are laughing. They’re enjoying every part of it. That’s what I love that Simone [Biles] has changed that aspect of the sport.”

This week has been Biles’ first competition back on the world stage since Tokyo 2020, when she pulled out of several events suffering from what is known as the “twisties” – a mental block causing a gymnast to lose track of their positions in midair.

Dawes said she believes Biles would be returning to competition with “something to prove,” but praised how she handled her own struggles at the last Olympic Games.

“She was a game-changer in that right, because then more athletes felt comfortable speaking out about mental issues they were dealing with on and off the court. So she was able to make an impact in that regard,” Dawes said, predicting Biles could make the next two Olympic teams.

“As an athlete, you are a little remiss wishing you were able to make it fully through and I know she’s going to be able to do that in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

“I keep saying to my husband, I think this young lady can think about qualifying to her fourth Olympic Games in 2028 in LA.”

Before that, Biles has the chance to win yet more world championship medals.

She will take part in the women’s individual all-around final on Friday, before the women’s vault and uneven bars finals on October 7 and the balance beam and floor exercise finals the following day.

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