Coronation complete as Biles wins all around gold
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[August 12, 2016]
By Pritha Sarkar
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - As Simone
Biles stood locked in a tight embrace with her team mate Aly
Raisman, waiting for her final score to come up on the big screen,
the concerned look in her eyes suggested she had no idea who would
be crowned Olympic all around champion.
The American, however, was the only one still in the dark in the
brightly lit Rio Olympic Arena on Thursday as the hollering cheers
and standing ovation that greeted her final tumbling pass on the
floor exercise confirmed what everyone knew long before the judges'
verdict came up -- Biles was the new champion.
When a stupendous score of 15.933 confirmed she had beaten Raisman
by 2.100 points with a total of 62.198, the coronation that had been
in the planning stages ever since she won the first of a record
three successive world titles in 2013 could finally take place.
Then the woman who had remained stoic throughout the previous two
hours as she showcased her jaw-dropping skills across four
apparatus, finally let her guard down and burst into tears.
As the realization hit home that she finally owned the biggest
individual prize in the sport, the crowd saluted a gymnast who had
just become the first woman in 20 years to win the Olympic
all-around title as the reigning world champion.
"Every emotion hit me at once so I was just kind of a train wreck,"
Biles said after scooping a second gold in Rio following her success
in the team final on Tuesday.
"Everything was going through my head but mainly it was like I had
finally done it and when that hits you, you can't really stop the
For Raisman, claiming silver with a total of 60.098 meant redemption
after she suffered a gut-wrenching disappointment to miss out on the
bronze four years ago to Russia's Aliya Mustafina on the tiebreak
This time, the American was all smiles as she stood one step higher
than Mustafina on the podium.
"After the tiebreak of 2012 it was very heartbreaking and now coming
back and finally having that redemption after four years of working
so hard and five times of trying in the all around final at world
championships and the Olympics, it's really special to finally be on
the podium," she said.
But she was under no illusion which medal she had been aiming for.
"No one goes in thinking they can beat Simone. People don't go in
thinking they can beat Usain Bolt either. It's kind of the same
As far as Biles was concerned, she is incomparable.
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Simone Biles (USA) of USA competes on the beam during the women's
individual all-around final. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
"I'm not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps, I'm the first Simone
Many reigning world champions before Biles have tried to conquer the
Olympics, only to crumble under the weight of expectation -- thus
becoming victims of what in gymnastics circles is known as the
"curse of the world champion".
But rather than being crushed by the hype, Biles is such a free
spirit that she simply soared higher and higher on Thursday with a
dazzling floor performance that will live long in the memory of
those lucky enough to be in the Rio Olympic Arena.
Biles earned 15.866 on the vault, 14.966 on the asymmetric bars and
15.433 on the balance beam.
On the floor, her explosive tumbling passes -- which included her
trademark soaring double layout with half twist at the end -- had
the Brazilian crowd on their feet as her sassy moves were
choreographed to hip-swinging Samba beats.
Biles' triumph made her the fourth successive American to win the
title -- following the successes of Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin
and Gabby Douglas -- which is the longest winning streak by a
country in the Olympic discipline.
Biles and Raisman completed a one-two finish for the second time for
the U.S. after Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson won gold and silver
respectively in 2008.
It was also the first time since 1992 that both the men's and
women's all around champions were members of the gold medal team at
the same Olympics.
(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, additional reporting by Alexandra
Ulmer,; Drazen Jorgic and Mary Milliken; Editing by Toby Davis and
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