Simone Biles enjoyed a virtual sweep in qualifying at the gymnastics world championships on Monday, further burying the nightmare of her Tokyo Olympics.
The US superstar took top spot in the all-around, vault, beam and floor and appears certain to comfortably add to her 25 world medals made up of 19 gold, three silver and three bronze.
The only athlete to get the better of her on Monday was 16-year-old Qiu Qiyuan of China on the uneven bars.
In total, Biles has 58.865 points for a two-point lead over compatriot Shilese Jones (56.932) and Jessica Gadirova of Britain (56.766).
Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade, the revelation of the Tokyo Olympics two years ago, took fourth place with 56.599 points.
Biles’ only disappointment came on the uneven bars where she was fifth after being penalised for a fall.
“I don’t know, it happens in gymnastics,” she said. “You have to think quickly so as not to forget the sequences.
“I recovered well and that’s the most important thing.”
On Sunday, 26-year-old Biles made history by becoming the first female gymnast to execute a “Yurchenko double pike vault” now renamed “Biles II” during women’s team qualifying.
A four-time Olympic champion, Biles arrived in Japan for the 2021 Olympics as the huge favourite thanks to her four titles won five years earlier in Rio.
However, she broke down in full view of a global audience, withdrawing from most of the events.
She then explained that she was fighting against “twisties”, a temporary mental block whereby gymnasts lose their sense of where they are in the air, with the risk of injury when they land.
She returned to action at the beginning of August and demonstrated that she had lost none of her incredible level.
She won the US Classic, where she obtained the best scores on vault, floor and beam, followed by a record eighth US all-around title at the national championships.
On Wednesday, she will go for a first gold in Antwerp in the women’s team event.
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