Biles dazzles with beam, floor golds

Gymnastics superstar caps impressive comeback with her 23rd world title

AFP October 09, 2023


Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles capped her impressive comeback after a two-year break with gold medals on the floor and balance beam on Sunday taking her to 23 world titles, less than 10 months before the Paris Olympics.

Biles also won all-around and team gold with the United States in Antwerp where she won her first world titles a decade ago.

The 26-year-old leaves the Flemish port city with five medals – four gold and a silver – to bring her tally to 30 medals at world championships.

"I feel like I've no words really," said Biles of her week in Antwerp.

"I was just excited, out here competing, having that pressure again. The crowd, the energy, being out there.

"The whole entire experience that we've had at this world championships, I think we learned a lot from it, moving forward."

In a high-level beam final, Biles landed every skill with near perfection, with the title decided by a tiny margin, as Zhou Yaqin also impressed.

Gold only escaped the Chinese teenager because she took a step back after her dismount and was penalised a tenth of a point.

Biles scored 14.800, with 17-year-old Zhou just 0.100 behind. Brazilian Rebeca Andrade, who had beaten Biles the day before in the vault final, took bronze.

Barely an hour and a half later, the four-time Olympic champion was back on the competition stage for the floor final.

Despite going out of the area, the American wowed with her jumps, winning with a score of 14.633.

Andrade, whose duel with Biles lit up the competition, once again delivered a charismatic performance at the Sportpaleis to take silver (14.500), ahead of her compatriot Flavia Saraiva (13.966).

Andrade, the revelation of the Tokyo Olympics, also won five medals, including one gold, in Antwerp.

"We had Rebeca on every single podium," said Biles. "So I feel like we give each other the best push that we can to bring out the best."

Biles had to settle for silver on the vault due to a fall on the landing on Saturday, and her worst finish was a fifth place on the uneven bars, her least favourite apparatus.

But her return has been impressive two years after the "twisties", a temporary mental block whereby gymnasts lose the sense of where they are in the air, badly affected her Tokyo Olympics.

She withdrew from four of five individual finals in Japan, taking team silver despite withdrawing midway through the competition and beam bronze.

Biles then stopped training completely and only returned to competition last August in the United States, in a bid to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

"I was a little bit worried, but I know that I've been trained properly and that whatever happens happens, so I wasn't too worried about medal count or medal colour," she said.

"I can't answer any questions for the future, I'm just going to live in the now."

In Sunday's other finals, German Lukas Dauser, Olympic and 2022 world silver medallist, won his first world title on parallel bars.

Britain's Jake Jarman dominated the vault final and the high bar title went to Daiki Hashimoto, all-around king earlier in the week and team gold medallist with Japan.


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