Simone Biles earns record 21st medal at World Championships

Simon Briggs
The Telegraph
Simone Biles now has 15 gold medals to her name - six more than anyone else - Getty Images Europe
Simone Biles now has 15 gold medals to her name - six more than anyone else - Getty Images Europe

Peerless gymnast Simone Biles set a record by leading the United States to team gold on Tuesday in Stuttgart. This was her 21st World Championships medal, carrying her past Svetlana Khorkina’s tally of 20.

By the end of this event, Biles will be far out on her own. She has qualified for all five individual finals and could well repeat her feat from last year’s championships, where she won medals in each of the six events.

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Her overall superiority is underlined by that fact that 15 of her medals to date have been gold, whereas no one else has ever won more than nine golds at this level.

There was never any doubt that the US would come in first on Tuesday, for this was their fifth straight team gold at the worlds. Sure enough, they posted a massive 172.330, almost six marks ahead of Russia in silver-medal position.

Italy surprisingly took the bronze, pipping the Chinese by just over half a mark, while Great Britain came in a creditable sixth.

“I never think of records – I just go out there and do what I came to do,” Biles said afterwards. “Every year it feels better and better, just because we’re adding to the legacy.”

If you separated out the scores, Biles posted the best routine of the day on three of the four pieces of apparatus. The exception was the uneven bars, where she came a mere fourth, as Great Britain’s Becky Downie topped the table with an outstanding 14.900.

If she reproduces that kind of form in Saturday’s individual apparatus final, the 27-year-old Downie will stand a strong chance of becoming a world champion for the first time.

In a late change of strategy, Becky’s younger sister Ellie Downie performed on only two pieces – the vault and the uneven bars – because of minor concerns over an ankle problem.

The coaches were keen to keep her as fresh as possible for her own vault final on Saturday, which left 18-year-old Georgia-Mae Fenton to provide unexpected contributions on beam and floor.

Meanwhile, 16-year-old Taeja James made her senior World Championships debut with two solid routines on floor and vault.

As Becky Downie told the BBC on Tuesday: “We didn’t make the team final last year, so just to be in this was a huge step forward for us.”

On Wednesday, Max Whitlock and his colleagues will be performing in the men’s team event from 1.30pm.

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