Simone Biles competes on the balance beam at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships on Oct. 13, 2019 in Stuttgart, Germany.
Simone Biles became the most decorated gymnast in world championships history by winning the balance beam title on Sunday, and then she added another gold medal on floor exercise before the day was done.
With the FIG World Championships now wrapped up in Stuttgart, Germany, the 22-year-old Texan now has 25 career medals at the event. Her 19 world titles nearly match the next best woman’s tally for total medals at the event. And with the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on the horizon, Biles is in position to become the most decorated gymnast in combined world championships and Olympic medals.
Fittingly, Biles updated her floor routine this week to conclude with a mic drop pose. Though she didn’t do that on Sunday, she might as well have.
In addition to Biles’ balance beam and floor exercise world titles, U.S. teammate Sunisa Lee also won a silver medal on floor exercise while Kara Eaker finished fourth on balance beam on the final day of competition in Stuttgart. In total, the U.S. women won eight medals in Germany, including the team title.
Eaker had originally qualified for the balance beam finals for the second year in a row, but an inquiry to try to raise her score actually resulted in a lower score, pushing her out of the top eight who advance to finals. However, when Canada’s Ellie Black withdrew due to injury on Thursday, Eaker got bumped back into the finals.
Competing on Sunday, the Grain Valley, Missouri, native was good but not quite at her elegant best, with a big wobble and balance check needed to stay on the apparatus, and she ultimately scored 14.000.
Biles, competing next, mounted the beam and left no question as to whether she would defend her title, performing her ultra-difficult routine with confidence. Even though she ended with her full twisting double back dismount instead of the unprecedented double-double she had done earlier in the competition, her 6.4 difficulty score was still the strongest in the field. Combined with the event’s top execution score of 8.666, Biles scored 15.066.
She jumped out of her seat and punched the air in celebration as her score was revealed, making her the most decorated gymnast in the history of the world championships with 24 total medals.
Biles’ score bumped Eaker off the podium into fourth place, an improvement over her sixth-place finish in the event at her world championships debut last year.
Competing shortly after in the floor exercise finals, 16-year-old Lee took part in her third individual final after placing eighth in the all-around and third on uneven bars. The St. Paul, Minnesota, native closed out her first world championships with a strong performance on floor exercise that scored 14.133, putting her into first place with four gymnasts left to compete.
However, Biles was one of those still on the list.
As the final competitor, Biles did what she always does on floor.
Starting her routine with the triple twisting, double backflip that will soon carry her name, Biles later had one mistake in stepping out of bounds, but it hardly mattered as she scored 15.133 to win the event by a full point.
The world title was Biles’ fifth on floor exercise, in addition to the 2016 Olympic gold medal.
Biles, who is also a four-time Olympic gold medalist, won 2019 world titles in the team, all-around, vault, balance beam and floor exercise, while finishing fifth in uneven bars. This marks the first time in her decorated career she has won five gold medals in a single world championships, coming one year after she won medals across all six events. In other words, it was another dominant performance that’s almost unheard of in the sport, but for which Biles has made feel almost routine.
Following this week, Biles now has 25 world championships medals, with 19 of them being gold. Her world-title count nearly matches the total medal count of Russia’s Svetlana Khorkina, who is the second most decorated woman at the world championships with 20 medals, nine of then gold.
Former Belarusian gymnast Vitaly Scherbo was the all-time leader before Biles with 23 world championships medals, 12 of them gold, while Japan’s Kohei Uchimura won 21 medals, 10 of them gold.
Of course, world championships tallies don’t account for the Olympics.
Combining the two competitions, Scherbo remains No. 1 with 33 medals, 18 of them gold, followed by the Soviet Union’s Larisa Latynina, who won 32 medals, 18 of them gold.
Biles will go into Tokyo with a combined 30 medals and 23 gold medals, ensuring the combined record is well within her sights.
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic Movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009, including the gymnastics national championships and Olympic trials since 2011, on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.