US gymnast is now the world’s most decorated gymnast ever with 34 medals across world championships and Olympics.
Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles continued her spectacular return from a two-year break by claiming her 21st world title with all-around gold at the world gymnastics championships in Antwerp, Belgium.
The United States gymnast produced a dominant display on Friday to score 58.399 points and secure the title ahead of defending champion Rebeca Andrade of Brazil (56.766), with US teammate Shilese Jones taking bronze (56.332).
Biles obtained the best score on three of the four apparatuses, with the uneven bars the exception.
Biles, who won her first all-around world title as a 16-year-old in Antwerp a decade ago, has now claimed a total of 27 world medals – including 21 golds – and led the US women’s team to their seventh consecutive team title on Wednesday.
In total, Biles now has 34 medals across the world championships and Olympics, making her the most decorated gymnast ever – male or female – at the sport’s two signature events. Biles has also surpassed Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo’s record of 33 medals in total at the Olympics and world championships.
“Actually, I had something in my eye today that I couldn’t get out, I swear it’s true,” she told reporters.
“But I was emotional because 10 years ago I won my first worlds and now we’re back here,” said Biles of her return to Antwerp, Belgium, where she opened her world tally in 2013, winning four medals, including two golds.
“It means everything to me, after everything I’ve put in to get back to this place to feel comfortable and confident enough to compete.”
With two more days of competition, everything suggests Biles’s medal collection will be further enriched since she still has four apparatus finals ahead.
Biles has made a breathtaking comeback to the sport since the Tokyo Olympics.
Arriving in Japan as the big favourite thanks to her four gold medals won five years earlier in Rio de Janeiro, Biles broke down and withdrew from four of the five finals after suffering from what in the sport is known as “twisties” – a temporary mental block whereby gymnasts lose their sense of where they are in the air.
Now back at the highest level, the Texan is gearing up for the Paris Olympics after taking advantage of her break to take care of her mental health.
“I was actually less nervous today,” Biles said.
“I was so much more nervous for team finals just because that’s when everything occurred [in Tokyo], so I was a bit traumatised from that, so today I felt a little bit more relaxed. I’m happy that’s over,” she said.
Biles’s competition continues this weekend with the women’s vault and uneven bars finals on Saturday and the balance beam and floor exercise finals on Sunday.