Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade reigns on vault as Biles falls to silver
US superstar Simone Biles was denied another title on the penultimate day of the world gymnastics championships in Antwerp on Saturday taking silver on the vault behind Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade and finishing fifth on the uneven bars.
On Friday, Biles won the all-around title ahead of defending champion Andrade to become the most decorated gymnast in history, having also led the United States women to a seventh consecutive team title during the week.
But Olympic vault champion Andrade shone on Saturday, edging Biles who fell while landing her first jump – the demanding Yurchenko double pike vault, which now bears her name as the “Biles II”.
As a result, the Texan lost a point on her execution score. She was docked another half point due to the presence of her trainer Cecile Landi on the side of the mat.
She finished 0.201 points behind the Brazilian who won her second world gold in the discipline. For Biles it was a 28th world medal.
South Korea’s Yeo Seo-jeong took bronze.
Andrade, a revelation at the Tokyo Olympics, had already been crowned world vault champion at the 2021 worlds in Japan.
At 24, the delighted Brazilian, silver medallist in the team and the all-around competition behind Biles, now has seven medals on the world stage.
“I couldn’t have dreamt it, but it suits me!” she said of her three medals won in the Flemish port city. “It represents all my work and all the work of my team.”
Andrade said she had been “stunned” by Biles’ misstep.
“It’s such a beautiful jump! Of course, it was an opportunity for me to win,” she admitted.
“I’m happy with the result (but) I’m sad about her fall, I know how much all the girls work.”
– ‘Something very special’ –
For the third time this week, the Brazilian shared the podium with Biles.
“I take a lot of inspiration from Simone, she’s very important for sport and for gymnastics. So being by her side is something very special, we always encourage each other,” she confided.
The two women will meet again during the beam and floor finals scheduled for Sunday’s final day of competition.
Despite failing to win a gold medal on Saturday, Biles has made an impressive return to competition two years after her “twisties”, a temporary mental block whereby gymnasts lose their sense of where they are in the air, ended her Tokyo Olympics.
A few moments after her vault medal, the four-time Olympic champion was back on the competition stage to take part in the uneven bars, the apparatus which is her least successful.
She took fifth place in the final, dominated by China’s Qiu Qiyuan, 16, who scored 15.100 points to take the gold ahead of Algerian Kaylia Nemour (15.033) with American Shilese Jones winning bronze (14.766). Biles scored 14,200.
It was a first major title for Qiu, the Chinese and Asian all-around champion.
China then won a second title, with Olympic champion Liu Yang, 29, taking gold on the rings with 15.233 points, nine years after his first world title on the apparatus.
Greece’s Eleftherios Petrounias, a former Olympic and three-time world champion on the apparatus, took silver with 15.066 points ahead of China’s You Hao with 14.833 points.
In the other finals of the day, Irishman Rhys McClenaghan retained his pommel horse crown, while Olympic floor champion, Israeli Artem Dolgopyat, claimed his first world title on the floor.
Britain’s Max Whitlock, the two-time Olympic pommel horse champion, who has returned after an extended break with mental health struggles, placed fifth.
Whitlock is building towards his bid to become the first gymnast to win four Olympic medals on the same apparatus next year – he won pommel bronze in 2012.