Just six seconds. Start running, pirouette with your back to the colt and turn. Two somersaults while gripping his legs completely horizontally. And it falls. And Simone Biles manages to be the first woman to run a Yurchenko Double Pike in an international competition. He tried it in 2021, and rehearsed for the Tokyo Games, those from which he withdrew citing a mental health problem. The element, unusual even among men, will now bear her name: Biles II. Ten years ago that 16-year-old girl with braces who won her first World Cup. Now, Biles is a physical powerhouse, a talented gymnast. Nothing can stop it, and no one can overshadow it. And she has placed first provisionally in the qualifying day of the Antwerp World Artistic Gymnastics with 58.865 points. With turquoise in its attire, America sought balance. He came out with ambition, and achieved it by finishing leading with 171.395 points, with Great Britain (166.130) and Italy (162.230) behind.
The crowd thronged to watch the first part of the women's classification at the Antwerp Sportpaleis. Italy debuted with relaxed authority in jumping with two Yurkenchos of double turn of Alice D'Amato and Arianna Belardelli, while the Netherlands took the uneven bars with a varied routine of Naomi Visser, who scored a precious 14.166. The wait was long for Kazakh Darya Yassinskaya: her music wasn't ready for her floor routine and she was spinning around on the mat. The audience, empathetic, cheered her. Simultaneously, on the tracks, the Italian Manila Esposito and Visser disputed the lead of a tight all around, and the Panamanian Helon Hillary delighted in jump and floor to be the first gymnast, besides Biles, to execute an element with the name of the American: Biles I.
Simone Biles returns to the World Artistic Gymnastics as the great favorite
But the din came with the second subdivision: the United States and Simone Biles appeared triumphantly. The stadium roared, even when Biles was just warming up. The uneven bars welcomed the American. Without errors, it demonstrated accuracy in its less strong apparatus with a 14.4. But her teammate Shilese Jones did not forgive and snatched the first place with a 14.833. On the balance beams Biles was unrivaled, and executed elegantly and with astonishing aplomb to spontaneous applause from the audience. Her 14.566 placed her comfortably first, while Skye Blakely fell off the apparatus in a stunt and out of the bar. The United States had jumped ambitiously into the arena, which it shared with the gymnasts of Chinese Taipei.
And on the ground Biles would shake hands with Jones before her routine. Luck was not needed in one of his star tests: he floated between acrobatics, reached a great height in his first diagonal and made it seem easy to take the first place with 14.633 points. But the icing on the cake was still missing. The most anticipated moment. Biles rehearsed the Yurchenko Double Pike, and the audience went crazy. He did it, and he made history. By the force of the jump I was slightly propelled backwards. But no one cared, and he scored an outrageous 15,266.
Other athletes who have taken breaks for mental health
The day ended with Great Britain, the Republic of Korea and South Africa. Only the first approached the Americans, but Simone Biles was still leading in three of the four devices and the all around. Biles is back. And not just to compete. Or win. Also to impress.
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