Simone Biles wins fourth floor gold, Zou Jingyuan sublime on parallel bars

Four-time Olympic champ Biles ties women's record 20 medals at World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

By Scott Bregman

Simone Biles became the first woman to win four world floor titles, and tied Svetlana Khorkina on a women's record 20 medals at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Doha.

Biles saved her best for last, scoring 14.933 to win by a huge 1.000 margin in the discipline she dominates and take her tally to 14 world titles.

“I’m proud of my performances here,” Biles said. “I’m really proud of the outcome.”

In the first women’s final of the day, the four-time Olympic gold medallist shook off errors in both the team and all-around finals to claim bronze on the balance beam.

It was another historic day for the 21-year-old who won medals in all six categories (team, all-around, vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise), the first athlete to do so since the late Yelena Shushunova in 1987.

Romania’s Daniela Silivas accomplished the same feat at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.

“I think there’s a lot to be proud of, but most proud of that I’m here,” Biles said. “made all of the event finals, medalled in all of the events, and I survived.”

A typically emphatic win on the floor proved an apt conclusion to Biles' week.

Morgan Hurd made it a USA 1-2, with defending champion Mai Murakami of Japan having to settle for bronze after her all-around silver.

Women's floor podium (L-R): runner-up Morgan Hurd, winner Simone Biles, third-placed Mai Murakami

"I just love competing alongside her,” Hurd said of Biles. “She really got me through this routine. I could hear her so well."

Biles' next target is the all-time record for world medals, male or female, held by Vitaly Scherbo.

Scherbo, who won six golds at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, amassed 23 medals at World Championships representing the Soviet Union, CIS and Belarus.

Zou retains crown in style

When it comes to all-around excellence, Biles is in a class of her own.

But for sheer mastery of one piece of apparatus, look no further than China's Zou Jingyuan.

The 20-year-old took gold 12 months ago in Montreal, and he was quite magnificent in Doha.

Even Rio 2016 gold medallist Oleg Verniaiev had to applaud as Zou registered the highest score in any event in Doha to take victory ahead of the reigning Olympic champion.

He wasn't the only one dazzled by Zou's brilliance.

Zonderland flies to gold

London 2012 gold medallist Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands reclaimed the world title on the horizontal bar, the final event of the championships.

It’s the third of his career, after titles in 2013 and 2014.

“Amazing,” said Zonderland. “It was a long time ago since I was world champion. And the period in between was quite hard especially before the Olympics.”

The ‘Flying Dutchman’ did not disappoint in the final, adding .600 to his difficulty score from qualifying.

“Last year, I proved to myself that it was possible,” the 32-year-old new father said. “But this year, I really did it.”

The bar also provided redemption and a long-awaited first individual World Championship medal for Sam Mikulak.

Men's high bar podium (L-R): silver medallist Kohei Uchimura, winner Epke Zonderland, bronze medallist Sam Mikulak

The five-time American champion finished fifth in the all-around after a mistake on the high bar in the final rotation, and he had been fourth on both the pommel horse and the parallel bars in Doha.

He finished with the bronze behind Zonderland and Japan’s six-time world all-around champion Kohei Uchimura who came away from Doha with just one silver medal.

Mikulak said, “This was my one goal for the entire year. Just kind of break into the scene. Now that I got it, I just want go home and see my puppy.”

Ri claims third vault world title

North Korea’s Ri Se Gwang proved he is still the king of the vault as he reclaimed his world title.

The Olympic champion from Rio 2016 skipped last year's World Championships but returned to secure his third world crown ahead of recently crowned all-around champion Artur Dalaloyan of Russia.

Japan’s Kenzo Shirai, world champion 12 months ago, took the bronze.

Men's vault podium (L-R): runner-up Artur Dalaloyan, champion Ri Se Gwang, third-placed Kenzo Shirai

Ri performed the two vaults named in his honour: the front handspring double pike front with a half twist and the full-twisting double Tsukahara.

Both vaults carry a 6.0 difficulty score, something no other vaulter in the final attempted.

Canada's Anne-Marie Padurariu made her Worlds debut a successful one as she took silver on the balance beam ahead of Simone Biles.

With just one competitor to go, Padurariu led the field with teammate Ellie Black in fourth.

But China's Tingting Liu denied Padurariu Canada's first gold medal at the World Championships, delighting the crowd with an elegant routine which scored 14.533.

The two Canadians hugged as they waited for Liu's score to flash up.

Black recalled, “Mostly just saying we’re so proud of what she was able to do and go out there and perform. And no matter the score, no matter what it is, that accomplishment is just incredible.”


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