Sun, Nov 04, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Biles and Lee Chih-kai win historic medals

AP, DOHA, Qatar

Taiwan’s Lee Chih-kai shows his bronze medal after the world championships men’s pommel horse final at the Aspire Dome in Doha, Qatar, on Friday. China’s Xiao Ruoteng won gold and Britain’s Max Whitlock won silver.

Photo: AP

Simone Biles of the US made history on Friday by picking up her record 13th career gold medal at the world gymnastics championships, as Lee Chih-Kai won Taiwan’s first world championship medal in a quarter-century.

Lee won bronze in the men’s pommel horse, the first world championship medal for Taiwan in 25 years. China’s Xiao Ruoteng, who lost gold in the all-around on a tiebreaker, won gold on a tiebreaker. Xiao and Max Whitlock of Britain both finished with a score of 15.166, but Xiao claimed gold, because his execution score was higher than Whitlock’s.

For Biles, Friday’s medal was on the vault, but she might cherish the silver captured on the uneven bars more.

For years, she viewed the bars with a mixture of skepticism and scorn. There was a point in time she said that would have been all right with taking a “chainsaw” to every bars set in the US.

Those days are over. Helped in part by the influence of new head coach Laurent Landi, Biles now considers the event a challenge more than a chore. Maybe that is why her smile on the podium after coming in second to Belgium’s Nina Derwael was so wide.

“I’ve come a long way,” Biles said.

It certainly showed. Biles put together a score of 14.7 to edge Germany’s Elisabeth Seitz for silver. Belgium’s Nina Derwael won the first-ever gold medal for her country at worlds when the judges awarded her daring, intricate set a 15.2.

Not that Biles — who expressed frustration over her performance while winning a record fourth all-around title on Thursday — was complaining after finishing runner-up to Derwael.

She became the first US woman to earn a world championship medal on all four events, and the way that she has focused on upping her degree of difficulty on the bars is a testament to the way that her approach has matured over the years.

“Before, to even work and put that much effort into the bars, I would have probably been like ‘No, no thank you,’” Biles said. “I really put the work and the effort to bring up that event to the level with the other [events].”

In events such as the vault, where Biles has long been among the best in the world, she easily captured gold, even though she opted not to perform her new signature vault after she fell while trying to land in the all-around final.

Although she chose two slightly safer vaults instead, her average of 15.366 was nearly a full point ahead of silver medalist Shallon Olsen of Canada and bronze medalist Alexa Moreno of Mexico.

She had a chance to add to her medal total yesterday, when competing in both the balance beam final and the floor exercise final.

If she medaled on both — as she did at the 2016 Olympic Games — the 21-year-old would have tied the all-time mark for career medals at the world championships with 20.

Men’s all-around champion Artur Dalaloyan added gold on the floor exercise. His score of 14.900 allowed him to slip past Japan’s Kenzo Shirai. Carlos Edriel Yulo of the Philippines was third, just ahead of Yul Moldauer of the US in fourth.

Greece’s Eleftherios Petrounias captured gold on the still rings with a score of 15.366. Brazil’s Arthur Zanetti took silver, with Marco Lodadio of Italy claiming bronze.

The men were to finish up the meet yesterday with finals on the vault, parallel bars and high bar.

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