US gymnastics superstar Simone Biles admitted being bewildered by her own success after claiming a record-extending 16th world championship gold medal and fifth all-around title on Thursday in Stuttgart.
Biles, 22, earned the 22nd world medal of her career, backing up team gold with the USA on Tuesday, by producing a superb display. ‘It’s an honour and it’s super exciting,’ she said.
Chinese youngster Tang Xijing, 16, took silver, while Angelina Melnikova of Russia claimed bronze.
Biles’ winning margin of 2.1 points was her biggest at a world championships and was identical to her winning gap in the same event at the 2016 Olympics.
She extended her own record as the most decorated woman in world championships history to leave her just one short of male gymnast Vitaly Scherbo’s all-time record of 23 medals.
She can break Scherbo’s mark in this weekend’s four apparatus finals.
However, she was slightly bewildered by her worlds medal tally and amazed by her own displays in Stuttgart.
‘I feel like it’s not me and sometimes I wonder how I do it. I sometimes wish I could have an out-of-body experience to witness it,’ she said, laughing.
‘I look back at videos and wonder how I did that.’
Biles led from the start, nailing her first discipline with a superb vault which scored 15.223 points.
She followed that up with a solid display on the uneven bars, where she posted the third-highest score, to consolidate her lead.
Biles dominated the beam and sealed gold with the highest score of 14.400 in the floor exercise when she had only needed 12.300 for the title.
She said the hardest thing was ‘keeping up with the music’ during her floor routine.
‘I go faster than it, so I feel like it’s harder to slow myself down,’ said Biles.
With two golds won and potentially four more medals to come, Biles has put a testing two years behind her.
In January 2018, she revealed she was a victim of Larry Nassar, the disgraced former doctor of the US women’s Olympic team, who was jailed for sexually abusing hundreds of girls and women.
In August, her brother was arrested and charged with a shooting which left three people dead last December.
Less than a year out from the Tokyo Olympics, Biles is in dazzling form, but remains haunted by a mistake at the 2016 Games.
She won four golds in Rio de Janeiro, the only blip being a mistake on the beam, which she grabbed during her routine, leaving her with bronze.
Her French coach Laurent Landi said they both relaxed after Biles’ beam performance passed without incident in Stuttgart.
However, he had to calm Biles down before the final floor event with the crowd urging her on.
‘I am very proud of her consistency in competition, she now believes she can do that routine any time,’ said Landi.
‘I still had to ask her to calm down before going into the floor.
‘She is running a little bit too fast, feeling the adrenaline and the pressure -- she never flies like this in training, only at meets, so she needs to control herself a little bit more.
‘But it was the last event, so I would rather have that, than someone who is making a mistake at the end.’
Landi said Biles’ winning margin of 2.1 ‘should have been three’.
However, a mistake on the uneven bars by Biles’ US team-mate Sunisa Lee, a medal contender who finished eighth, served as a warning.
‘You saw that today, we weren’t expecting girls to fall and make tiny mistakes,’ said Landi.
‘All of a sudden they are off the podium, so even she (Biles) can’t afford to make a mistake.
‘Two points is just two falls, which can disappear very quickly, especially on the beam.’
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