Biles on verge of history after record-equalling 23rd world medal

Ryland JAMES
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Simone Biles claimed a record-equalling 23rd world championship medal on Saturday

US gymnastics queen Simone Biles equalled the all-time record of 23 world championship medals on Saturday but insisted she had little time to reflect on her astonishing feat with two more finals still to come.

The 22-year-old Biles needs one more medal from Sunday's beam and floor finals in Stuttgart to overtake Belarusian gymnast Vitaly Scherbo.

"I don't have time to think about these things. I think of my performances - and then dinner," Biles told AFP when asked about equalling Scherbo's record from the 1990s.

Biles took her third gold of the week -- after all-around and team success -- in the vault final ahead of US team-mate Jade Carey, who finished with silver while Britain's Ellie Downie took bronze.

"I was just happy to land it very well," said Biles after her second vault confirmed victory. "Because in practice... I was always overshooting, so I was pleased to have a nice, peaceful landing."

- 'One at a time' -

Biles, a four-time Olympic champion, stretched her own record tally of world titles to 17 and can potentially leave Stuttgart with five medals.

Biles later missed the chance of a second medal on Saturday, finishing fifth in the uneven bars final behind winner Nina Derwael of Belgium, who retained the title she won in Doha last year.

"I'm excited with the performances I put out today, obviously no medal on the bars, but there was (only) a slim chance I was going to (get one)," admitted Biles.

The US star is "99.9 percent" sure this will be her last world championships, but gives little thought to potentially making history on Sunday.

"I just keep a clear head going into all the finals," she said.

"I try to think of it one at a time, cherish the moment, compete with pride and just have fun."

Britain's Becky Downie, 27, took silver on the uneven bars behind Derwael, less than two hours after younger sister Ellie, 20, earned bronze behind Biles on the vault.

"It's been so long, so many years, I can't believe I have finally done it," said the elder Downie after coming second on the bars.

Younger sister Ellie, the 2017 all-around European champion, was as equally delighted with her bronze medal on the vault.

"I was just so happy to stick my vaults and crossing my fingers, it's crazy to win a worlds medal after a rollercoaster of a week," she said.

Fellow Briton Max Whitlock, the men's Olympic pommel horse champion, won the world title in Stuttgart for the third time in his career.

- Tiny margins -

The 26-year-old added to his 2015 and 2017 titles with a winning margin of only 0.067 points ahead of silver medallist Lee Chih-Kai of Taiwan. Ireland's Rhys McClenaghan finished 0.1 back to claim bronze.

"It was a very tough final, the standard was so high with margins so tiny," said Whitlock.

"I made an error early on, but if anything that made me more determined to perfect every skill from them on."

Ibrahim Colak of Turkey scooped his first major title with gold on the men's rings as Olympic champion Eleftherios Petrounias finished fourth.

Colak, 24, won by just 0.033 points ahead of Italian Marco Lodadio. France's Samir Ait Said earned bronze, 0.133 back.

Ait Said's first world championship medal, at 29, came three years after suffering a double fracture of the left leg at the Rio Olympics.

"I'm on a cloud," said the Frenchman. "I'm not going to lie, I was scared because I knew the stakes were high."

Petrounias, the 2016 Olympic champion and a three-time world gold medallist, finished just off the podium, only 0.2 points back.

Earlier, Filipino teen Carlos Edriel Yulo, 19, won the men's floor title, bettering the bronze he won last year, by 0.1 points ahead of Israel's Artem Dolgopyat. China's Xiao Ruoteng collected bronze.

Russia's all-around champion Nikita Nagornyy blew the chance to win a second gold in 24 hours after picking up a 0.3-point penalty to finish sixth.