U.S. Gymnasts, Led by Simone Biles, Win a 4th Straight World Team Title

U.S. Gymnasts, Led by Simone Biles, Win a 4th Straight World Team Title

DOHA, Qatar — The juggernaut led by Simone Biles keeps right on rolling, kidney stone or no kidney stone.

The United States women’s gymnastics team cruised to a gold medal at the world gymnastics championships on Tuesday, extending a run of dominance that 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 Russia, the silver medalist, and China, which won the bronze. The 8.766 margin of victory was the largest at a major international competition since the United States streak began in 2011.

Once the title was secured, Morgan Hurd hopped on Biles’s back and went for a brief ride, the two teammates laughing all the way.

The athletes who shared the podium with Biles, the defending Olympic champion, at the 2016 Games are gone. Yet the machine rolls on.

“It shows how strong the group of girls are and how strong Team U.S.A. is,” Biles said after collecting the 15th world championship medal of her career. “I feel like anything you guys throw at us, we’ll try and work even harder to improve ourselves and our scores for the team.”

Even a couple of rare missteps by Biles did little to slow the Americans. Biles, 21, was dealing with a kidney stone diagnosed last week and attempting to fight through the pain.

Biles waved to the crowd at the half-full Aspire Dome after completing her floor routine and then went over to join her teammates — Hurd, 17; Riley McCusker, 17; Kara Eaker, 15; Grace McCallum, who turned 16 on Tuesday; and Ragan Smith, 18 — 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.

But Biles hardly did it alone. McCallum was steady on floor exercise and vault. Eaker’s fluid routine on balance beam made it seem as if she were competing on a piece of wood four feet wide, not four inches. Hurd, the 2017 world all-around champion, had the third-best score of the day on vault as the United States raced to its usual quick lead and was never threatened.

Russia slipped past China for silver, giving the event the same top-three finish as the 2016 Olympics had.

The gap between Russia and eighth-place Germany was all of 3.43 points, less than half of the margin between first and second. Canada backed its surprising fourth in qualifying to finish a close fourth over all. Brazil had a shot to reach the podium before falling apart on uneven bars.

The Russians did not lock up silver until the final routine on the final rotation. By then, gold was well in hand for the Americans, just as it has been since their winning streak began seven years ago.

Not bad for a group that Biles said had a terrible warm-up session before making its way into the Aspire Dome.

The Americans were not perfect, not even Biles. She looked angry after a beam routine in which she briefly lost her balance while trying to land a front pike, forcing her to reach down and hold on. She later stepped out of bounds during her first tumbling pass on floor exercise, a byproduct of her explosive power.

Yet the mistakes were the kind the United States could absorb without fear of the competition catching them. It’s simple math: The Americans put together the toughest routines and then do them cleaner than everyone else.

That is why Tom Forster, the team’s high-performance coordinator, could act on hunch, putting McCusker on the beam for the final — despite her shaky performance in qualifying, during which Hurd scored higher. Even if McCusker had imploded, the team would have been fine. But she didn’t. Her score of 13.7 on Tuesday was markedly better and the boost to her confidence immeasurable.

“It meant a lot to me, because I knew my first-day performance was not my best,” McCusker said. “I was definitely very nervous going in. I feel like I got all those nerves out on the competition stage. I was ready to come in today and kill it.”

Forster was tasked with helping create a more positive culture within the organization, which has been in chaos since the revelation of extensive sexual abuse by Lawrence G. Nassar, the former team doctor who is now in prison.

Forster said he wanted to send a message to the rest of the elite program by giving McCusker another opportunity.

“We don’t write you off if you have a mistake,” he said. “Mistakes happen, we’re just human.”

Forster, hired in June, joked that he was finally going to have a chance to sleep through the night. The same goes for the team, though the Americans will be plenty busy over the next few days.

Three of the women will be in at least one event final. Biles, nearly a year after she returned to training, will have the heaviest workload of all. She will be in the all-around final and all four event finals.

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