By Karen Price | Sept. 01, 2017, 4:08 p.m. (ET)
Laura Zeng competes with the ribbon at the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships on Aug. 31, 2017 in Pesaro, Italy.

 

Olympian Laura Zeng capped an historic two days for the United States at the 35th World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Pesaro, Italy, with a sixth-place finish in the all-around competition on Friday.

It is the highest finish ever by an American at the world championships, besting her own eighth-place finish in 2015. 

Training partner Evita Griskenas finished 11th in the all-around in her world championship debut, marking just the second time that Team USA had two athletes in the world all-around finals and the first time they both finished in the top 11. The first was in 2013, when Jazzy Kerber and Rebecca Sereda both advanced. Griskenas’ 11th-place finish is also the fourth highest for Team USA at the world championship behind Zeng’s 2015 and 2017 finishes and Mary Sanders’ 10th-place finish in 2003.

This was also the first time that the U.S. qualified at least one athlete to all four event finals.

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On Wednesday, Zeng finished sixth in the ball final while Griskenas finished eighth in the hoop final. Then on Thursday, Zeng finished sixth in the clubs final and fifth in the ribbon final, while Griskenas was seventh in the ribbon final. The ribbon final was the first time Team USA had two athletes in the same final.

Zeng is the first American rhythmic gymnast to compete in three world event finals at the same championships. The three-time U.S. champion also finished 11th at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, tying the highest Olympic finish by an American, and won a bronze medal in the all-around in the Youth Olympic Games Nanjing 2014, becoming the first American to win a medal in rhythmic gymnastics in the Olympic or Youth Olympic Games.

The rhythmic world championships continue throughout the weekend with the group competitions. 

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.