All eyes are on Biles at worlds as American returns after two-year hiatus

The inaugural World Artistic Gymnastics Championships were held in Antwerp 120 years ago. Simone Biles, the gymnast with the most medals in the competition’s history, is no stranger to the venue.

At 16, the American won the first of her five international all-around championships in Antwerp. Since then, she has won 25 medals at the world championships, including 19 golds.

When the competition begins on Saturday, she will make history as the first woman to represent the United States at six artistic world championships and the oldest American competitor at the worlds in over 50 years, at the age of 26.

The Americans are going for their eighth straight team victory. Still, all eyes will be on Biles as she competes internationally after taking a two-year sabbatical from the sport to look after her mental health.

When Biles withdrew from many events at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 owing to the “twisties,” a loss of spatial awareness in mid-air that can be horrifying for even the most seasoned gymnasts, the news was publicized.

However, when she returned for the U.S. Gymnastics Championships last month, it was as if she had never left. She warmed up for the world by winning a record-tying ninth all-around national title, which brought the San Jose audience to its feet and received a standing ovation.

But since the 2019 championships in Stuttgart, when she won five gold medals and had new techniques dubbed in her honor as she executed her trademark moves, Biles has not participated in the world championships.

Her ultimate goal was the Paris Games in 2018, but the four-time Olympic winner said she would approach her third Games differently and concentrate on being in top physical and mental condition.


The top nine teams in Antwerp will each get five quota spots at the Olympics in Paris. Last year, China, Japan, and Britain filled the men’s team quotas, while the United States, Britain, and Canada filled the women’s quotas.

The U.S. women are the clear favorites to win, while the men have yet to qualify, but Biles will have competition for the individual all-around gold.

Brazilian silver medalist Rebeca Andrade, the 2022 all-around champion, and Biles’s fellow countrywoman Shilese Jones, 21, who won silver at the 2017 world championships, are strong contenders.

Jones competed in the national championships after a 10-month absence due to shoulder and ankle issues, and her performance in second place behind Biles served as an ominous omen.

China and Japan won the gold and silver medals in the men’s category last year, and the two teams are predicted to compete for first place once more, with Japan’s Olympic champion Daiki Hashimoto defending his world title.

Zhang Boheng of China, the reigning world champion in 2021, has chosen to compete in the current Asian Games instead, where he has already won the all-around individual gold. Therefore, there won’t be a matchup between them.

Hey there, I'm Jessica, a sports writer with a focus on women's sports. My insightful articles shed light on the achievements and challenges faced by female athletes, inspiring readers with stories of determination and resilience.

Related posts