STUTTGART, Germany – Already hailed as the greatest gymnast in history, Simone Biles added another medal and distinction to her résumé Saturday at the world championships.
Biles, 22, a five-time world all-around champion and reigning Olympic all-around champion, won gold on the vault Saturday, equaling the all-time career record of 23 world championship medals earned by Vitaly Scherbo of Belarus in the 1990s.
Fellow American Jade Carey, 19, who edged Biles in qualifying on the vault by .001 of a point, took the silver medal. Britain’s Elissa Downie took bronze.
Biles had surpassed former Russian great Svetlana Khorkina earlier in the competition for the most world medals claimed by a female gymnast. And her work is hardly done in what she has said is almost certainly her final world championships.
Later Saturday, Biles will have a chance to eclipse Scherbo’s long-standing mark when she contests the uneven bars. Regardless of the outcome on her weakest event (she qualified seventh among the field of eight), Biles will be heavily favored to add two more medals on Sunday, the final day of competition, when she competes on balance beam and floor. She is the reigning world champion on floor and reigning world bronze medalist on beam.
Fellow American Sunisa Lee, 16, the youngest member of the five-woman U.S. squad that won team gold earlier this week, will join Biles in the uneven bars final. It is Lee’s strength, and she’ll be eager to rebound after an uncharacteristic error during the all-around competition.
In the vault competition, gymnasts perform two vaults in succession, with their scores averaged for their result.
On Biles’ first vault, the extremely difficult Cheng, she was brilliant through the air but took a significant hop backward upon landing and frowned. Her second, an Amanar, was nearly flawless start to finish and raised her ultimate, averaged score to 15.399 points.
Carey, who also took silver on vault at the 2017 world championships, got off to a strong start with her opening vault but hopped out of bounds in landed her second one. Still, the deduction wasn’t severe enough to knock her out of silver, which she claimed with a score of 14.883.