ANTWERP, Belgium (AP) — The acrobatics that Simone Biles tries are so extreme and difficult that even when she does not execute to perfection, she still ends up on a world podium.
Biles had to be content with a silver medal on Saturday at the world championships — her 28th overall since she started her harvest a decade ago — after she over-rotated her signature Yurchenko double pike and fell backwards on the mat on landing.
Rebeca Andrade of Brazil denied Biles a 22nd world title by winning the vault competition ahead of the American superstar.
A day after she became the most decorated gymnast in history, Biles tried to claim back the title she last won in 2019 by performing her extremely difficult signature vault that nobody else does in the women’s competition, and only a few men attempt.
Biles’ second vault was an excellent Cheng to finish with a combined score of 14.549. Andrade was nearly flawless to snatch the gold medal by a margin of 0.201 points. Yeo Seo-jeong of South Korea took the bronze with 14.416.
Olympic vault champion Andrade said she was disappointed to witness Biles failing in her quest for perfection.
“I’m happy for my result, but sad about the fall because we know how much athletes train to do this vault,” she said through a translator.
Asked whether she would try the Yurchenko double pike in competition, Andrade said it would be a “crazy” thing to do.
“I don’t have the body for that,” she added.
Biles became the first woman to do the Yurchenko double pike at the world championships during qualifying, and the vault is now named the Biles II because it was achieved in international competition. The 26-year-old American now has five skills named after her.
As usual, the biggest cheers and applause from the crowd during the presentation were for Biles.
First on the starting list, she kicked off her meeting with a massive vault but fell on her back upon landing. In addition, Biles took a half-point deduction when she did her Yurchenko because her coach Laurent Landi stood on the mat as a precaution, ready to assist her in case something went wrong.
But the start value of the Biles II is so high that even the fall did not hurt her chances of medaling.
After getting 15.000 points for her first vault, Andrade — who was dethroned by Biles in the all-around final — then nailed a superb double twisting Yurchenko to cap her day in style.
Biles had also qualified for the uneven bars final Saturday, but her routine doesn’t have the difficulty of the top athletes in this discipline and she finished fifth.
Her U.S. teammate Shilese Jones collected the bronze medal behind 16-year-old Qiu Qiyuan of China, the new world champion with 15.100 points. Kaylia Nemour of Algeria was runner-up.
Biles is competing at her first world championships since 2019. Her silver came a day after the four-time Olympic gold medalist won her sixth all-around crown. She also led the U.S women to a record seventh straight win in the team event earlier this week in the Belgian port city.
Biles, who has won a record 35 medals at the world championships and Olympics, has returned to competition this summer after a two-year break that she used to focus on her mental wellbeing following the Tokyo Olympics.
In the men’s competition, Rhys McClenaghan won gold to defend his title on the pommel horse ahead of Khoi Young of the United States, who secured silver in his first world championships. It was the third medal since the start of the competition for the U.S. men’s team. Ahmad Abu Al-Soud, of Jordan, was third.
Young had a fall on the pommel horse during the team’s final when the U.S. won the bronze medal.
“I really wanted to prove to myself and the team that I can be trusted in high pressure situations,” he said. “I think that’s what I really proved today.”
Olympic champion Artem Dolgopyat of Israel won the floor title with 14.866 points ahead of Kazuki Minami of Japan. Milad Karimi of Kazakhstan completed the podium.
Yang Liu’s stunning display of power in the men’s rings final earned him 15.233 points, enough for the reigning Olympic champion from China to win the world title ahead of a former Olympic gold medalist, Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece. Liu’s teammate You Hao completed the podium.
Biles will be back in action on Sunday for the floor and balance beam finals.
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