Simone Biles seeks more history in 2019
Simone Biles has done it all.
The four-time Olympic champion also owns a record 14 World titles with at least one on each event other than the uneven bars. She’s the only woman to ever win three-straight World all-around titles and four overall.
But even still, gymnastics fans can expect to see even more history-making moments from the 22-year-old American in 2019.
A World Champs preview
Biles started her 2019 campaign with victory at the Stuttgart All-Around World Cup.
It was just her fourth competition since Rio 2016 and she admitted she had not spent as much time in the gym as she had hoped prior to her seasonal debut.
The next time the 20-time Worlds medallist sets foot in Germany is likely to be October’s World Championships. That’s when she’ll go for her fifth World all-around title.
She already owns the record for most all-around titles by a woman with only Kohei Uchimura’s six titles ahead of her.
Best at home
In 2018, just eight months into having resumed training Biles did something she hadn’t accomplished in the lead up to the Rio Olympics: won a U.S. title on the uneven bars.
The bars had been the apparatus that gave her fits – once even joking she wanted to light all sets of uneven bars on fire. But it was never a bad event for Biles – she finished fourth in the World in the bars final at the 2013 Worlds and a 15.000 score ranked her 14th in Rio.
Last season, Biles showed marked improvement on the bars likely due to her work with new coaches Laurent and Cecile Landi, who led Madison Kocian to a World title and Olympic silver on the event. Her U.S. title in August was part of her sweep of the gold medals at the event, a feat not accomplished since 1994 when Olympic champion Dominique Dawes did it.
No U.S. woman has ever swept the championships in back-to-back years, and Biles will be the odds-on favourite to win her sixth overall title when the U.S. nationals are run in August. The last woman to own six U.S. titles is Clara Schroth Lomady. Her last title came 67 years ago in 1952.
A team effort
Biles will likely lead a talented team to the World Championships.
In Stuttgart, the U.S. will have the chance to win its fifth-straight team title, a streak that dates back to 2011. (Team competitions were not held in 2012, 2013, 2016 or 2017). It would be the first such run for the United States and its seventh title overall. Team USA's first World team title came in 2003.
That 2003 victory ended a five year run by Romania.
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The United States will also have the chance to become the active country with the most women's gymnastics World medals.
Currently, they are second in the overall count at 105 to Romania's 109 though the U.S. has nine more gold medal wins. The Soviet Union won 118 medals from 1954 to 1991. With a max of 11 medals possible for any country in women's gymnastics, the Soviet record will hold until at least the 2021 Worlds.
Greatest of all
Though Biles has repeatedly shrugged off the notion that she is the greatest female gymnast of all time, including during an Olympic Channel exclusive interview during last year’s World championships, it’s hard to deny that she is.
At the Worlds in Stuttgart, in addition to going for her fifth all-around title and potentially helping her teammates to a fifth straight team championship, she’ll have plenty of other potential record-crushing moments.
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After 2018, Biles is tied with Russia’s Svetlana Khorkina for most World Championships medals at 20 (though Biles has 14 golds to Khorkina’s 9). One medal, of course, gives her that honor outright while she needs just three medals in Stuttgart to tie Vitaly Scherbo’s overall record of 23.
In addition, a repeat performance from Doha, where Biles grabbed six medals, would tie her with the Soviet Union’s Larisa Latynina for the most combined World and Olympic medals at 31. Latynina has 18 Olympic medals while Biles’ has five. Biles does, however, have the potential to tie the Soviet great’s record of nine gymnastics gold medals with a string of five in Tokyo. She nearly won five gold medals in Rio but a slight error on the balance beam dropped her bronze.
Other records Biles will be chasing in Stuttgart include: the first woman to collect five global titles on the floor exercise and three on the balance beam.
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