Simone Biles Is First Gymnast To Win Three Straight World All-Around Titles While Gabby Douglas Earns Silver

By Associated Press | Oct. 29, 2015, 5:18 p.m. (ET)
(l-r) Larisa Andreea Iordache of Romania wins bronze, Simone Biles wins gold and Gabrielle Douglas wins silver in the all-around final during the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships at The SSE Hydro on Oct. 29, 2015 in Glasgow, Scotland.


GLASGOW, Scotland -- Simone Biles won her third straight world gymnastics title on Thursday night, topping defending Olympic champion Gabby Douglas in an electric all-around final that cemented Biles' status as the overwhelming favorite top the podium in Rio next summer.

Biles overcame a near fall on balance beam and a big step out of bounds on floor exercise to post a score of 60.399, more than a full point ahead of Douglas and bronze medalist Larisa Iordache of Romania.

The margin is the biggest of Biles' three championships even with the mistakes. She became the first woman to win three straight titles and hasn't lost a meet of any kind in more than two years.

Douglas is the first Olympic champion to reach the medal stand at worlds since Yelena Davydova in 1981.

Biles is in the midst of a run unprecedented in this era of women's gymnastics, when peaks are measured in months and not years. Yet she is still improving, still pushing the boundaries with the Olympics only nine months away. Her performances have become events during an unbeaten streak at more than two years and counting, one that doesn't appear in danger of ending anytime soon. She combines groundbreaking tumbling -- there's even a move named after her on the floor exercise -- with nearly flawless execution.

This victory, her 10th in a row dating back to the 2013 U.S. championships, came a little harder than most. The 18-year-old was in the middle of her balance beam routine -- the event she's the most inconsistent on -- when things got weird. She over-rotated on a front flip and found herself pitching forward, squeezing the 4-inch wide slab with her hands just to hold on. She recovered and finished as if nothing happened but sullenly walked back to her seat to do a quick (and typically not always fun) post mortem.

Her biggest competition came from Douglas, who is slowly and steadily rounding into the form that made her a superstar three summers ago in London. The 19-year-old edged teammate and three-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman to qualify for the finals thanks to a rule that limits countries to two competitors in individual events. Douglas is painstakingly building toward Rio, seeking to become the first woman to repeat an all-around gold at the Olympics in nearly 50 years.

While Douglas' routines aren't quite on Biles' level in terms of difficulty, it's not her fault. At the moment Biles stands alone, as dominant in her sport as LeBron James, Serena Williams or Lionel Messi.

There's still plenty of time for Douglas and the rest of the field to put in the upgrades necessary to get close to Biles. Catching her might be tougher. Her routines are so dynamic, so explosive and so expressive she can win easily even on days when she's not as sharp as she'd like. Biles now has 11 world championship medals, eight of them gold, all records for an American gymnast.

Iordache overcame the disappointment of Romania's stunning 12th-place finish in team qualifying to add a bronze to go with the silver she won last year. She hugged her coaches at the end of her routine, relieved after restoring some sort of order to the gymnastics world.

A short time later Biles was slapping hands with coach Aimee Boorman, still kind of ticked after her second tumbling pass on floor exercise carried her over the boundary, earning her a major deduction. Even with the miscue, her 15.266 was easily the best of a night when she showcased she's once again best in the world.