Publication date : 11/08/2016
RIO DE JANEIRO -- So great were the expectations that Simone Biles was unofficially awarded the Olympic All-around gold medal nearly a year ago, after she won her third consecutive World title in dominating fashion. But Thursday night in Rio, Biles had to make it happen for real. And she did: With a relaxed smile on her face and assured, almost casual performances on every apparatus, the 19-year-old flipped and twisted her way to All-Around gold with stunning ease, two days after earning her first Olympic title with the U.S. team.
Below her on the podium stood two women who between them have 11 Olympic medals: Trailing by 2.1 points, Biles's teammate Alexandra Raisman took silver, while Russia's Aliya Mustafina won her second All-around bronze.
A second gold and more to come?
Biles is the fourth consecutive American to win the supreme title in gymnastics, inheriting the crown previously worn by Carly Patterson (2004), Nastia Liukin (2008) and Gabrielle Douglas (2012).
The 19-year-old Texan, who has already won the most gold medals of any female gymnast ever at the World Championships (10), could break another record in Rio: She has qualified in first place for event finals on Vault, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise, meaning she could return home with as many as five gold medals, an unprecedented result in Women's Artistic Gymnastics.
The wheel of fortune turns for Raisman
While there was no suspense about who the winner would be, the race for silver and bronze was open. As the competition unfolded, many potential contenders, including 2014 Youth Olympic Games champion Seda Tutkhalian (RUS) and Brazilian favorite Rebecca Andrade made critical errors that doomed their hopes.
After a smooth start, Raisman finished with an exclamation point on her strongest apparatus, Floor Exercise, where she won the Olympic title four years ago. Her silver medal confirmation was not long in coming, and the moment was emotional for the 22-year-old U.S. team captain, whose 2012 All-around final ended with her on the unfortunate side of a tiebreaker. In London, Raisman finished with the exact same overall score as Aliya Mustafina, but ultimately ranked fourth behind the Russian.
The 22-year-old American now has five Olympic medals, including two won in the last three days, a winning return for a woman who took a year off after London 2012. Raisman will attempt to defend her Olympic title on Floor in the apparatus final August 16.
Mustafina savours second bronze
Four years ago, Aliya Mustafina took Olympic All-around bronze, a tremendous achievement for the 2010 World champion considering that she was returning from a knee injury sustained 16 months before the London Games. This time, a second bronze medal was the reward for four long years of perseverance at the very top of the sport. The 2012 Olympic Uneven Bars champion used her speciality to her full advantage, even leading the All-around race at the competition's halfway point.
Though not the biggest story of either Games she has taken part in, Mustafina has been one of the heroines of Rio, just as she was in London. The 21-year-old has already stood on six Olympic podiums, including Tuesday night after contributing heavily to the Russian team's silver medal performance.