For many, Simone Biles is the greatest gymnast of all time and after a two-year hiatus from the sport following the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, the US gymnast is back to what she does best: winning events.
The 26-year-old has another opportunity to add to her medal collection over the next week at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp, Belgium.
There is plenty on the line at the world championships, including qualification spots for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
The world championships begin on September 30 and run until October 8.
Qualifying competitions take place on the opening day through until Monday, October 2, with the first medals awarded the following day.
Biles will first compete on Sunday, October 1, and will need to finish in the top 24 all-around and top eight in the individual event rankings to advance to the medal rounds.
On Wednesday, she is set to return to action as part of the USA’s five-woman team competing in the final of the team event.
If she advances through qualifying as many expect, Biles will take part in the women’s individual all-around final on Friday, before the women’s vault and uneven bars finals on October 7 and the balance beam and floor exercise finals the following day.
NBC will broadcast coverage in the US from October 3, while the BBC will show the finals in the UK.
All three days of qualifying will be broadcast on the International Gymnastics Federation’s streaming hub, All Gymnastics TV. The finals will also be available in some countries on the platform.
In pictures: Superstar gymnast Simone Biles
It’s been a long road, but Biles appears to approaching her dominant best.
She booked her spot at the world championships thanks to victory at the US Women’s World Championships Selection Event earlier this month, continuing her return to competitive gymnastics after pulling out of several events at the Tokyo Olympics Games suffering from what is known as the “twisties” – a mental block causing a gymnast to lose track of their positions in midair.
She had already won her record eighth national all-around title with a strong performance at the US Gymnastics Championships in San Jose, California, a month earlier.
However, Biles admitted on the eve of the world championships that she thought, at times, that she might never be able to compete as she had done before.
“I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to compete again because there were multiple times this year where I was in the gym and I was like: ‘I’m actually terrified of this full-in, like I’m not doing it again, never going to do it,’” Biles told Olympics.com in an exclusive interview.
“And then I was like: ‘You know what? I’m just going to come back another day, another day.’”
In qualifying for the world championships, she became the only US woman to qualify for six world championships, her first being in 2013 – an event that was also held in Antwerp.
“Back to where it all started. See you soon Belgium,” Biles wrote on Instagram.
In her world championships debut in Antwerp 10 years ago, Biles won all-around and floor exercise golds, as well as vault silver and beam bronze.
She has now accumulated 25 world championship medals – 19 golds, three silver and three bronze – in total. The last world championships she competed in were in 2019, when she won five gold medals, a feat she could replicate in Belgium.
Biles is already the most decorated gymnast in US history, winning 32 medals across the Olympics and the world championships.
These days, however, Biles says medals and accolades are her sole focus.
“I think what success means to me is a little bit different than before because before everyone defined success for me, even if I had my own narrative that I wanted,” Biles told Olympics.com
“So, now, it’s just showing up, being in a good head place, having fun out there, and whatever happens, happens.”
There are still qualification places for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games to be secured in Belgium as the competition is the main qualifier for next year’s summer Games.
The National Olympic Committees (NOC) teams from China, Japan and Great Britain in the men’s team competition booked their spots at last year’s edition of the world championships, while the US, Canada and Great Britain in the women’s team event also are qualified.
That means that in Belgium, there are nine spots left to complete the 12-team event in both the men’s and women’s competition.
Also, the three highest-ranked NOCs at the world championships that did not earn qualification in the team event will earn one individual quota place for their NOC.
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