Simone Biles extended her all-time record to 25 medals at the competition, beating the mark of 23 set by Belarus' Vitaly Scherbo. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
US gymnastics star Simone Biles won her fifth gold medal in the women's floor final Sunday to conclude her "best ever" world championships and extend her all-time record to 25 medals at the competition. Biles, who won the beam title earlier in the day, claimed an unrivalled 19th world gold following her previous successes in the team, all-around and vault events in Stuttgart. "This is really the best worlds performance I have ever put out," Biles said proudly after finishing her fifth world championships with five titles. The 22-year-old Biles plans to celebrate when she gets back home to Texas, where "my mom usually likes to throw a worlds party - whether I want one or not," she joked.
Biles was crowned world floor champion for the fifth time in her career after winning the final by a full point from team-mate Sunisa Lee, who earned silver with Russia's Angelina Melnikova taking bronze. "I just couldn't move at the end, I was so tired," Biles confessed after her sixth and final event in Stuttgart. Her double gold success came within a two-hour spell after earlier winning the beam final with China's Liu Tingting, 19, taking silver with 16-year-old team-mate Li Shijia in bronze. "It meant a lot," said Biles of her gold on the beam.
She had to settle for bronze in the event at the 2016 Olympics and last year's world championships in Doha. "I'm thrilled with that performance, it was probably the highlight" of the week.
For the US gymnastics queen, it's about keeping calm and staying focused. Under a year out from the Tokyo Olympics, the 22-year-old is the undisputed star of the Stuttgart championships and receives huge cheers whenever she performs. Biles won the women's all-around title on Thursday, the fifth time she has won the event, leaving her on 22 worlds medals, one short of male gymnast Vitaly Scherbo's all-time record of 23. Having also won team gold in Stuttgart, Biles feels "more confident than I did in Rio", where she won four Olympic golds in 2016, and could potentially finish this weekend with six world golds from her six events.
However, she refuses to put herself under pressure for this weekend's vault, beam, uneven bars and floor finals, saying simply "we just have to see". Biles has repeatedly refused to regard herself as the greatest gymnast of all time. "Everyone puts that on me, I don't really put it on myself," she told reporters. Her coach Laurent Landi urged Biles to "calm down" as she closed in on Thursday's all-around gold and the Frenchman says he is proud of the consistency she has shown in Stuttgart.
Biles worked hard on the beam to rebuild her confidence in the discipline. "To go out there and nail the routine felt really good," she said. Her victories on the beam and floor made Biles the most decorated gymnast in history, surpassing the previous all-time record of 23 world medals won by men's star Vitaly Scherbo of Belarus in the 1990s. This is the first time Biles has finished a world championships with five golds, but she has said she is "99 percent" sure Stuttgart will be her last. The only blot on Biles' near-perfect record in south-west Germany came in Saturday's uneven bars final when she finished fifth, but both Biles and her coach Laurent Landi were delighted with her week.
Less than 10 months before the Tokyo Games, Biles is on course to retain the Olympic team, floor, vault and all-around titles she won in Rio. "She's incredible, she was here to do a job and she did exactly what she trained for," said Frenchman Landi. "She has shown to herself and everybody else that she is consistent, not only in training, but when it counts. If she does this for 12 more months, she will be very, very successful," he added.