The US Women’s National Gymnastics team won their seventh consecutive world title at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships from Sept. 30 through Oct. 8. The competition took place in Antwerp, Belgium, and was a nine-day event.
The US team comprises gymnasts Skye Blakey, Shilese Jones, Joscelyn Roberson, and Leanne Wong, along with captain Simone Biles. The team placed first in the competition with a combined score of 167.729 points, just above Brazil’s 165.530 and France’s 164.064. The competition took place in Antwerp, Belgium, and was a nine-day event.
Breakout star Leanne Wong, who was not expected to participate in the competition, stepped up after Roberson hurt her ankle during warmups. Wong participated in both vault and floor routines, scoring 14.066 on vault and 13.166 on floor. In a recent Good Morning America interview, Wong said, “We had an incredible night. I’m just so proud of this team, I know it wasn’t easy, but we fought through every event, every skill and every routine — winning a seventh straight gold medal is pretty impressive.” Wong is a pre-med major studying at the University of Florida while balancing college and world gymnastics alongside running Leanne Wong Bowtique, her small business selling bows.
It was history in the making for Simone Biles at this year’s competition. Two years ago, Biles dropped out of the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics because of “the twisties,” a mental block that causes gymnasts to lose track of their position while in midair, and instead chose to focus on her mental health. Biles shared with AP News her bittersweet emotions about Artistic Championships, saying, “Because ten years ago, I won my first worlds. Now we’re back here. So it was emotional,” she said. “It means everything to me, the fight, everything that I’ve put in to get back to this place, feel comfortable and confident enough to compete.”
Less than three months after returning to competition, Biles has become the most decorated gymnast in history. During the competition, she won two gold medals on balance beam and floor, as well as a silver medal for vault. These wins bring her total to 37 medals. She has officially overtaken the record of 33 held by retired Belarusian gymnast Vitaly Scherbo. She has also become the first woman to represent the US at six artistic world championships by participating in the competition.
Biles has also become the first woman to land the Yurchenko double pike vault at an international competition, meaning the skill will be named after her. The International Gymnastics Federation will call the skill the Biles II in the gymnastics rule book alongside the five other skills that have been named after her. The other elements range from floor exercises to vault skills and balance beam.
Although Biles has not stated that she will compete, many expect her to lead Team USA at the 2024 Paris Olympics next summer.
(Sources: ABC, AP News, CNN, The Athletic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal)