With three gold medals and a silver so far in Doha, Simone Biles has two more chances today to eclipse Svetlana Khorkina as the most decorated female artistic gymnast in world championships history as she competes in the beam and floor final.
Khorkina has held the record at 20 medals since winning her final all-around gold in 2003. Prior to Biles entering the scene in 2013, Aliya Mustafina came closest to challenging, but in just three world championships in 2013, 2014, and 2015, Biles racked up an impressive 14 medals – ten of them gold, making her the most decorated world gold medalist in 2015 – to wind up third on the list.
If she earns her two medals on beam and floor today, Biles and Khorkina will both have a total of 20 world medals, but Biles wins the tie-breaker to become the most decorated in history as medal color determines the ranking, and with now 13 golds to Khorkina’s nine, Biles will jump ahead.
Below, enjoy a preview of the events to come. All finals will air live on the Olympic Channel, on Al Kass, and on the FIG’s YouTube Channel beginning at 4 pm local time (9 am ET). We’ll also have a live blog going up so you can follow along if you can’t watch.
Women’s Balance Beam
Beam has been a tricky event for Biles so far here in Doha, but I think she’s ready for a rage routine, and I don’t see her looking anything but fantastic here. I’m personally hoping she’ll ditch the barani and just go for clean and solid elsewhere, because the rest of the skills are fine and not worrying about the barani will make her much more confident coming in. But either way, with some of the strongest difficulty in the field, she’ll be a favorite for gold with a good routine.
Her teammate Kara Eaker is also a medal favorite with her quick connections and lovely presentation consistently making her the highest-scored gymnast this week. She’s been almost robotic in her training, pushing through with exactly what she needs to pull off stunning sets in competition, and with the way Biles has looked, I’d give Eaker the edge for gold.
Since it’s beam, this is going to be one of those “it’s anyone’s game” kind of finals, and I have too many favorites to decide who I want to see end up on the podium. The Canadians Ellie Black and Ana Padurariu bring both difficulty and confidence to their routines, and I’d love to see Padurariu get some revenge on the event after missing in the team final.
Nina Derwael of Belgium doesn’t have the sky-high difficulty, but she’s been flawless with every move she makes, reigning Olympic champion Sanne Wevers has some tricky connections but looked lovely in prelims, and the Chinese gymnasts Liu Tingting and Zhang Jin have been a bit nervous here, but they’re super precise when they need to be, and should give us clean skills and quick connections that could put them in contention for medals.
Women’s Floor Exercise
Unlike beam, this event is where we’ll see Biles practically assured to win gold. With more than a point ahead of the rest of the competitors after prelims, Biles could fall here and still score high enough to win, but with one of the most confident tumbling programs out there, I don’t think this will be a concern for her.
Reigning world champion Mai Murakami was second coming into the final, and if she hits the way she always does, I think she’ll stay in that silver medal position, though there are several gymnasts here who have been looking close to her level. One is Angelina Melnikova, who was rock solid in prelims, and though she had some bigger issues with her landings in the team and all-around finals, I hope she’ll bring everything she can to her final day of competition in Doha.
Morgan Hurd of the United States has also become one of the best floor workers in the world, and she put up a lights-out performance in the all-around final the other night, nailing every landing and showing that she could definitely be a contender, and this year’s European champion Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos of France has been phenomenal as well, putting her right up there with some of the world’s best to make her a major threat for a medal.
I’m also loving how Flavia Saraiva of Brazil has looked this week, and think she could be the dark horse, while Brooklyn Moors of Canada will stun with her gorgeous choreography and difficult front tumbling, and Lilia Akhaimova of Russia will show us once again why she’s been hard to ignore for major international teams.
North Korea’s Ri Se Gwang has the most difficult vaults we’ll see here at worlds, and though his execution and landings aren’t always there, the judges always reward him favorably and he’ll be the one to beat tonight.
Behind him, the Russians both looked great in prelims, with Artur Dalaloyan placing second and Nikita Nagornyy placing fourth, and both of these guys completely murdered their vaults in the all-around final, so I’d love to see them bring that same fire here, and Artur Davtyan of Armenia has been crushing it on vault all week, so I’d love to see him win the first world medal for his country here.
It’s going to be super close, though. Behind Ri, the other seven guys in prelims were all about two tenths apart from one another, so it’s totally coming down to the little things, with Caio Souza of Brazil, Kenzo Shirai of Japan, Dominick Cunningham of Great Britain, and Shek Wai Hung of Hong Kong rounding out the field and all just as capable of medaling as anyone else in this final.
Men’s Parallel Bars
After looking beyond incredible on this event all year, and becoming the only gymnast to break a 16 in the current code of points, Zou Jingyuan of China is the one to keep your eyes on here. His perfect precision, smooth but energetic transitions, and never-faltering confidence put him a step above the rest of the field, and he’s going to be nearly impossible to beat.
This has also been a fantastic event in an otherwise bummer of a meet for Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev, who struggled with falls and mistakes in both prelims and the all-around final, so hopefully it’ll all come together for him once again so his rush back from injury recoveries will pay off.
There’s also Lin Chaopan of China, Jossimar Calvo of Colombia, Sam Mikulak of the United States, Lukas Dauser of Germany, and the Russians David Belyavskiy and Artur Dalaloyan to consider, and given that all of these guys were about two tenths apart in prelims, it could be anyone’s game. I love Calvo’s smooth moves on this event, but really hope Belyavskiy is at his best, as this has been a rough competition for him individually and I’d love to see him walk away with some success.
Men’s High Bar
Our time here in Doha will finish with the most exciting event of all, and with guys like Epke Zonderland, Kohei Uchimura, and Sam Mikulak expected to deliver huge releases, insane connections, and solid dismounts, I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.
Based on what they do on the bar, these are my three favorites for the podium, but we can’t forget that last year, many of the favorites fumbled, giving Tin Srbic of Croatia with his clean skills and impressive difficulty the ability to come in as the dark horse for gold. Srbic is even better this year, so it’s possible we’ll see another major upset from him, and Xiao Ruoteng is always fantastic, capping off his excellent all-around performance earlier this week with beautiful work on this event.
Rounding out the field are Tang Chia-Hung of Chinese Taipei, Deng Shudi of China, and Artur Dalaloyan of Russia. I don’t think any of these three will sneak onto the podium without many major mistakes from the gymnasts ahead of them, and though Dalaloyan is lovely to watch, his difficulty is a bit behind the rest of the guys making it harder for him to contend.
Article by Lauren Hopkins