Biles defends World Championships achievements after matching Khorkina’s record

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Simone Biles found herself in the unlikely position of having to defend her extraordinary achievements after wrapping up her comeback World Championships in Doha with two more medals.

Gold on floor and a beam bronze saw Biles match Svetlana Khorkina’s career record of 20 world medals, as well as the becoming the first woman to win a medal in all four individual apparatus in more than 30 years.

Biles’ total haul of four golds, one silver and one bronze in Doha was all the more remarkable for the fact she was returning to international competition after 18 months out – and did so whilst suffering from a kidney stone.

Yet the 21-year-old’s frustration surfaced in a mid-session tweet in which she bridled at social media suggestions that her performance on beam – on which she wobbled twice to score 13.6 – had been a disappointment.

After being beaten to gold by Chinese teenager Liu Tingting, Biles wrote: “Just saying, I get to decide when I have a disappointing performance. Not y’all over a year out of the sport. Barely a year back in and my first big competition. I’m proud of myself!”

Far from disappointment, the audacious American had in fact underscored the extent of her dominance by winning the all-around title despite mistakes on three of her four apparatus.

Simone Biles
Simone Biles was thrilled winning gold in her floor routine (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

But on Saturday, despite a floor score  of 14.933 which was 0.4 down on her qualifying mark, she still managed to see off her nearest challenger, friend and team-mate Morgan Hurd, by a whole point.

Biles said: “It is upsetting for me when I see tweets after my performances of how disappointed people are of me, because they can’t set the expectations – that is down to me.

“I think there is a lot to be proud of, but I’m most proud that I’m here and I medalled in all the events and I survived.”

Next on the agenda for Biles is pizza, before getting back home to a doctor’s appointment which could determine her immediate plans as she switches her plans to enhancing her already remarkable legacy at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“I obviously have to go home to see the doctor and we will see how that goes, then I’ll go on a little vacation and then it’s back to the grind,” said Biles.

Simone Biles
Simone Biles expressed delight in her performances in Doha (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

Great Britain’s Dominick Cunningham missed out on a medal in the men’s vault final by just 0.009 of a point.

The newly-crowned European floor champion nailed his two attempts to score 14.666 and looked set to squeeze onto the podium before he was pipped to bronze by Japan’s reigning world champion Kenzo Shirai.

After an event won by North Korea’s reigning Olympic champion Ri Se-gwang, Cunningham said he would take heart from a competition in which he underlined his potential on the world stage.

“It would have been nice to come home with a bronze but fourth in the world is a huge achievement and I feel like I’m putting myself on the map now,” said Cunningham.

“I’m not the guy who falls all the time, I’m the guy who’s putting it out there in world finals. It’s my first World Championships and I’m coming out of nowhere really.

“I was ready to go on holiday and relax and not do any gymnastics for a long time after this, but it has inspired me to work harder. It feels like a whole different ball game now.”

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