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Simone Biles Breaks Medals Record As Team USA Wins Gymnastic World Championship

Team U.S.A. listening to the national anthem at the Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Simone Biles, third from left, wears her 21st championship medal.
Image credit: Matthias Schrader

The U.S. women’s gymnastics team won their fifth consecutive world championship in Germany Tuesday. Team USA’s gold medal was Simone Biles‘ 21st World Gymnastics Championships medal in her career, the most in women’s gymnastics history.

Biles, 22, anchored the U.S. team, scoring the highest individual points in vault, balance beam and floor exercise. Fifteen of her world medals are gold — also a record.

The Texan gymnast is now just three medals away from surpassing the all-time world medals leader, Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo.

“I guess it’s kind of crazy,” Biles said. “I didn’t really think about that. I think it’s really impressive for someone to be able to do that. It’s kind of exhilarating but I think I haven’t had the chance to process it yet. I think we’re celebrating tonight, for all of this: for the team, for the medal count, for the fifth year in a row.”

Team USA scored a collective 172.330 points. Second and third place went to Russia and Italy, respectively.

Biles now has four signature gymnastic moves named after her. In order for a gymnast to have a move named for them, they must submit it for consideration and successfully land it at a major competition such as the world championships or the Olympics. Two of those moves were added during Biles’s 2019 performances.

In her floor routine, Biles landed a triple-double, composed of a double backflip with three twists, now known as the “Biles II.”

She also created a new move on the balance beam, called the “Biles.” The move, a dismount that consists of a double-twisting double backflip, is awarded 0.8 points if performed successfully.

Both Biles and USA Gymnastics expressed disappointment at the points classification her balance beam was assigned. The FIG Women’s Technical Committee said the move was given a lower score in order to dissuade gymnasts from attempting a potentially dangerous maneuver.

“The safety of athletes is always a top priority for us and the sport in general, however we believe the skill should be given the value that it merits,” USA Gymnastics tweeted.

Paolo Zialcita is an intern on NPR’s News Desk.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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