The juggernaut led by Simone Biles keeps right on rolling, kidney stone or no kidney stone.
The U.S. women’s gymnastics team cruised to a gold medal at the world gymnastics championships on Tuesday, extending a run of dominance that only seems to be picking up momentum.
The Americans posted a team score of 171.629 in winning their fourth straight world title, well clear of silver medallist Russia and bronze medallist China. The 8.766 margin of victory is the largest at a major international competition since the U.S.’s streak began in 2011. The gap between first and second was more than two times the margin between second and eighth.
Even a couple of rare missteps by Biles, the reigning Olympic champion, did little to slow the Americans and their 21-year-old star. Biles is dealing with a kidney stone diagnosed last week and is attempting to fight through the pain. She touched the beam after losing her balance following a front flip and landed out of bounds following her first tumbling pass on floor but it hardly mattered.
Biles waved to the crowd at the half-filled Aspire Dome after completing her floor routine then went over to join teammates Riley McCusker, Kara Eaker, Morgan Hurd, Grace McCallum and Ragan Smith to celebrate. Biles competed in all four events during the three-up, three-count final and put up the highest score on vault, uneven bars and floor exercise.
Yet Biles hardly did it alone. McCallum was steady on floor exercise and vault on her 16th birthday. Kara Eaker’s fluid routine on balance beam made it seem as if the 15-year-old was competing on a piece of wood 4-feet wide, not 4-inches. Hurd, the 2017 world all-around champion, had the third-best score of the day on vault as the U.S. raced to its usual quick lead and was never threatened.
Russia slipped past China for silver, to give the event the same top-three finish as at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The real scramble is behind the Americans. Canada backed its surprising fourth in qualifying to finish a close fourth behind the Chinese. Brazil had a shot to reach the podium before falling apart on uneven bars.
Yet there is no question of who is on top. The answer has been the same for the better part of a decade. There are the Americans and there is everyone else.