GLASGOW (Reuters) – The days of scooping a perfect 10 in gymnastics are long gone, even for Simone Biles and Kohei Uchimura, but both cemented their places among the greats by claiming their 10th world titles on Sunday.
Already considered the finest gymnasts of this generation, and possibly ever — with Biles now holding a record number of world golds for a woman — the two all-around champions once again showed their ability to produce 24-karat-winning routines.
American Biles maintained her poise during a mesmerising balance beam display to obliterate the opposition with a score of 15.358, more than a point ahead of Dutchwoman Sanne Wevers.
While wobbles and falls littered the programmes of the seven other finalists, with four gymnasts slipping off the beam, Biles was rock solid as she spun around 900 degrees on her right toes.
She flew through her other acrobatic flips and when she nailed her full-twisting double back somersault dismount, it was game over for the others.
An hour later she was back to dazzle again with a hip-swinging floor-exercise.
Her explosive tumbling passes — which included her trademark soaring double layout with half twist at the end — and sassy moves were beautifully choreographed to the music of ‘Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps’.
After a score of 15.800 earned her a fourth title in Scotland, the 18-year-old might consider employing the services of a bodyguard as she heads back to her Texan home with a heavy load of precious metal.
“It’s an amazing feeling and I don’t think it has hit me yet,” said Biles, who won golds in the women’s team and all-around finals earlier in the week. She also bagged bronze on the vault.
“I can’t even wrap my head around it. I still don’t believe my ability to achieve such things. It’s crazy.”
Asked what she plans to do with so many glittering prizes, she added with a huge grin: “My mom … puts them in a safe and I do not know the combination.”
Solving the riddle of how to beat Biles and Uchimura will no doubt cause a lot of anxiety to their rivals going into 2016.
While Biles will arrive at the Rio Olympics a three-times all-around world champion, Japan’s Uchimura showed that his appetite for gold remains insatiable.
The holder of a record six successive world all-around titles ended the theatrical celebrations of American Danell Leyva, and his step-father-coach Yin Alvarez, with a high-flying routine on the horizontal bar that drew 15.833.
A performance that had the crowd oohing and aahhing with every one of his four release manoeuvres secured him a third gold in Glasgow, taking his overall worlds medal tally to 19.
It did not seem to satisfy Uchimura.
“I want to see the Japanese flag rising more than three times,” declared Uchimura, who is fast closing in on the record held by Vitaly Scherbo. The Belarussian won 23 world medals, including 12 golds.
While Biles and Uchimura were the leading lights on Sunday, Ri Se-gwang was saluting North Korea’s flag as his country’s national anthem was played for the second year running following his success in the vault final.
The 30-year-old took a step forward following his first vault — a piked double front summersault with half twist — and then stuck his tongue out bashfully when he failed to nail the second one cleanly.
But there was so much difficulty packed into his Tsukahara full-twisting double back effort, that the stumbled landing did not really dent his average score.
His mark of 15.450 edged out Marian Dragulescu by 0.050 of a point — the Romanian jumping into the arms of his coach after winning his 10th world medal, 14 years after earning his first.
You Hao ended a week of disappointment for China’s men as he captured their first gold medal in Glasgow by eclipsing Ukrainian defending champion Oleg Verniaiev by 0.15 of a point in the parallel bars final. He scored 16.216 on a day Asia won all three of the men’s apparatus finals.
(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Martyn Herman)