American Simone Biles becomes most decorated gymnast of all time: ‘It was emotional’


American gymnast Simone Biles continues to make history. Biles returned to the sport just under three months ago and continues to show she is one of the top gymnasts in the world.

On Friday, she won the individual all-around title at the world championships for the sixth time. The victory made her the most decorated gymnast of all time. Biles was emotional and appeared teary-eyed during a medal ceremony, although she noted the tears were for unexpected reasons.

“You guys are actually never going to believe me, but I’ve had something in my eye for like four hours today that I could not get out,” Biles said after the competition. “So, whenever I was staring at the podium, if I look up, it really hits my eye.

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Gold medalist Simone Biles of the U.S. poses for a photo during the medal ceremony at the 2023 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at Antwerp Sportpaleis Oct. 6, 2023, in Antwerp, Belgium.  (Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

“Because, 10 years ago, I won my first worlds. Now we’re back here. So, it was emotional,” she said. “It means everything to me, the fight, everything that I’ve put in to get back to this place, feel comfortable and confident enough to compete.”

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Biles scored a 58.399 in the balance beam, floor, vault and uneven bars to defeat Rebeca Andrade, the Brazilian defending champion, by 1.633 points.

It was Biles’ 27th world championship medal and 21st gold. It came two days after the four-time Olympic gold medalist led the U.S. women to a record seventh straight win in the team event.

Simone Biles competes on uneven bars

Simone Biles of the U.S. competes on uneven bars at the 2023 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at Antwerp Sportpaleis Oct. 6, 2023, in Antwerp, Belgium.  (Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Biles stepped away from the sport for two years to focus on her mental health after she competed in the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics. She said the therapy sessions and the breathing and visualization exercises she has been doing on a regular basis since have helped her recover.

“I was so much more nervous for team finals because that’s when everything occurred (in Tokyo), so I was a little bit traumatized from that. So, today I felt a little bit more relaxed,” she said. “So, I’m happy that that’s over.”

Biles now has 34 medals in the world championships and Olympics, making her the most decorated gymnast ever — male or female — at the sport’s two signature events ahead of the retired Vitaly Scherbo.

Gymnasts pose during a medal ceremony

(L-R) Silver medalist Rebeca Andrade of Brazil, gold medalist Simone Biles of the U.S. and bronze medalist Shilese Jones of the U.S. pose for a photo during the medal ceremony for the women’s all-around final of the 2023 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at Antwerp Sportpaleis Oct. 6, 2023. (Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

With the Olympic Games less than a year away in Paris, Biles seems is to be back at the top of her game.

“She is like wine. She is better with age,” her coach, Cecile Landi, said.

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Biles’ competition continues Saturday with the women’s vault and uneven bars finals. She is scheduled to compete on the balance beam and floor exercise finals Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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