Nanning (China) (AFP) – American Simone Biles retained her world women s all-around gymnastics title on Friday — and then received a scare on the podium when a bee gatecrashed her gold medal ceremony.
The 17-year-old fought off a late challenge from Romania s Larisa Andreea Iordache, finishing the four-apparatus final at 60.231 points, 0.466 better than her closest challenger.
Iordache ended on 59.765 with fellow American Kyla Ross in third on 58.232 at the Guangxi Gymnasium in Nanning, China.
Biles was startled when — with her medal already around her neck — a bee emerged from her bouquet of flowers, sending the champion hopping around the podium in a panic.
Unsure what to do, Biles threw the bouquet at the flying intruder, only for it to swerve towards flowers being held by her teammate Ross.
“There was a bee on my flowers and then Larisa told me so I tried to get the bee off and then the bee chased me, and then it got on Kyla,” said Biles.
“I m so sorry Kyla. I just don t do bugs!”
During the competition at the 4,000-seat arena, Biles had a capacity crowd behind her as they roared each time she made four dynamic tumbling passes on the floor in her final rotation to beat the Romanian.
“It means the world to me,” Biles said of the excitement she gets from each competition. “It s one of my favourite things to do is compete for a crowd. It s just really fun for me.”
The 145-centimetre (4ft 9in) gymnast admitted she was not immune to the pressure of being a defending champion. She won back-to-back US championships this year.
Iordache, the European floor champion, finished in the medals, climbing up from her fourth place last year.
“I am quite pleased with what I did today, but that does not mean I can not do even better,” she said.
– Second straight all-around world crown –
“Everything is possible at any one competition. Today I did not get gold but next time there is always a chance.”
Biles became the first female gymnast since Russia s Svetlana Khorkina in 2003 to win a second straight all-around world crown.
She is also the second US woman to ever win back-to-back world all-around titles with Shannon Miller blazing the trail in 1993 and 1994.
Bunched in an elite rotational group of top six qualifiers, Biles took a 0.700-lead after her first apparatus, vault.
But the gap narrowed with China s Yao Jinnan topping the table on uneven bars and Iordache dominating the balance beam by landing safely on the padded beam after a twisted back salto.
Biles stood just 0.133 points clear of the 18-year-old Romanian going into the final event floor exercise.
But Iordache stepped out of bounds after one of her dynamic tumbling passes for a 0.1-point deduction to score 14.733.
Biles soared high and landed clean in an overwhelming performance which left the crowd assured of her victory before a score of 15.066 was put on the board.
It was her second gold at these championships as she led her 16-year-old and 17-year-old teammates to a second straight women s team title on Wednesday.
There were scary moments on balance beam when Biles saved herself from the verge of falling. She lost her balance momentarily after a triple back salto and after another back flip.