Simone Biles competes in the women's floor exercise at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics Championships on Oct. 27, 2018 in Doha, Qatar.
After winning a historic five medals at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, Simone Biles has positioned herself to possibly do even better at this year’s gymnastics world championships.
The 21-year-old earned qualification to the all-around finals and each of the four event finals, while also leading the dominant U.S. squad to the team finals, at the world championships in Doha, Qatar. The two-day qualifying round wrapped up Sunday, though the U.S. women competed on Saturday.
Even more remarkable, Biles did so despite a kidney stone that kept her in the hospital until 1 a.m. on the morning of the competition.
As is often the case with Biles, her generational talent overshadowed otherwise impressive qualifying performances from her four teammates, with Morgan Hurd and Kara Eaker also making individual event finals as the world championships continue through next Saturday.
Altogether, the U.S. scored 174.429 points in the team competition, nearly nine points higher than second-place Russia, which scored 165.497. The five-person U.S. squad will go for the world title on Tuesday. A win would be Team USA’s sixth in a row at the Olympics or world championships, a streak dating back to 2011.
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Biles, the defending Olympic champion, led all-around qualifying with 60.965 points, followed by teammate and defending world champion Morgan Hurd at 56.465. Riley McCusker also competed in the all-around, scoring 54.765. Though that score ranked eighth overall and 24 gymnasts move on to Thursday’s all-around final, McCusker will not advance as only two per country can move on.
Biles also posted the top qualifying scores on vault (15.966 and 15.366, for a 15.666 average), balance beam (14.8) and floor exercise (15.333), while posting the second best score on uneven bars (14.866). The top eight gymnasts qualify for individual event finals, though again only two per country can move on.
Biles also qualified for all five individual finals at the 2013 world championships.
Joining Biles in the individual event finals are Hurd, who ranked fourth on floor exercise (13.933) and fifth on uneven bars (14.466), and Kara Eaker, whose score of 14.466 on balance beam ranked second to Biles.
Grace McCallum, who posted a 14.066 average over two vaults, is the second reserve for vault finals.
Biles, whose list of accomplishments in the sport is already nearly unmatched, is now in position to make more history as the competition continues in Doha.
An all-around world title would give Biles four, breaking a tie with Russia’s Svetlana Khorkina. After nailing a difficult new vault on Saturday — which will now be named after her — Biles is favored to win the world title on that apparatus for the first time (though she was Olympic champ). And with notable improvements on uneven bars since returning from her post-Olympic break this summer, Biles is also a contender to win her first world or Olympic medal on that event.
The Spring, Texas, native is already the most decorated American with 19 combined medals at the Olympics and world championships. Her four Olympic gold medals in Rio tied a record for a women’s gymnast, and her five total medals tied the U.S. women’s record. She also won five medals at the 2014 and ’15 world championships.
With two more world titles in Doha, Biles could tie Vitaly Scherbo‘s career record of 12, though Scherbo — competing for Russia and the Soviet Union during the 1990s — had more opportunities as men’s gymnastics has four apparatuses to women’s four.
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009, including the gymnastics national championships and Olympic trials every year since 2011, on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.