The Magnificent Seven: Team USA Wins Seventh Straight Gold at Artistic Gymnastics World Championships
Nearly 30 years ago, a group of American gymnasts captured Olympic gold in the women’s team final, earning the nickname Magnificent Seven for their incredible performance at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Fast forward to the present day, and five American gymnasts are hoping to achieve their own magnificent moment at the upcoming Olympics. Simone Biles, Shilese Jones, Leanne Wong, Skye Blakely, and Joscelyn Roberson recently won the team final at the 2023 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, securing Team USA’s seventh straight gold in the event.
Led by the legendary Simone Biles, Team USA finished with a total score of 167.729, over two points better than second-place Brazil. This victory marked Brazil’s first team medal ever in the event, with reigning Olympic all-around silver medalist Rebeca Andrade leading the team. Third-place France also made history by snagging its first team medal of any color at a women’s world championships since 1950.
Simone Biles continues to solidify her status as one of the greatest gymnasts of all time. With this win, she now boasts an impressive 26 world championship medals, 20 of which are gold. Biles is the only gymnast to be a part of five gold medal-winning world championship teams. At just 26 years old, she has five more chances to increase her medal haul as she qualified for every individual event final and is the favorite to win the all-around, vault, balance beam, and floor exercise titles.
The U.S. women’s team’s dominance is unparalleled. They are the only team, male or female, to win seven straight world team golds. This achievement speaks volumes about the talent and dedication of these athletes and their coaches.
However, Team USA faced a bit of adversity before the competition officially began. Joscelyn Roberson sustained an injury while warming up on vault, forcing her to withdraw from the competition. Roberson, a 17-year-old rising star and the only world championship rookie competing for the U.S. in Antwerp, was slated to compete on vault and floor. Leanne Wong, a star for the Florida Gators at the NCAA gymnastics level, stepped into Roberson’s lineup spot on both events and delivered clutch performances.
In a surprising move, Simone Biles did not perform the Yurchenko double pike, now named the Biles II in the Code of Points, that she executed during qualifications. Instead, she opted for a Cheng, a skill that requires a gymnast to do a roundoff onto the springboard followed by an immediate half-turn entry onto the vault table. Biles then launches off the table into a laid-out flip with a 1 1/2 twist. While not as difficult as her double pike, the Cheng is still one of the most challenging vaults performed in women’s gymnastics.
Despite losing Roberson and the absence of the Biles II, Team USA improved upon their vault score from qualifications. However, they headed to the uneven bars trailing China by 0.066. Three strong routines on bars, highlighted by Shilese Jones’ impressive 14.633 in the anchor spot, propelled the U.S. into first place, and they maintained the lead for the final two rotations.
A bit of drama arose on the balance beam when Leanne Wong had an uncharacteristic fall on a side aerial while competing in the leadoff spot. Shilese Jones also had a large wobble on her flight series. However, Simone Biles delivered a solid routine that earned her a score of 14.300, helping to stabilize the team’s performance.
Team USA sealed the deal on the floor exercise with three hit routines, including a jaw-dropping performance from Simone Biles that earned a massive 15.166. Biles’ score was the only one of the day to exceed the 15.000 mark, and even she was shocked by the high number. She celebrated with a hug from Joscelyn Roberson, who unfortunately may not be able to compete in the vault finals due to her injury.
Simone Biles and Shilese Jones will be back in action for the all-around final on Friday. They will also compete together in the uneven bars final on Saturday, as well as the beam and floor finals on Sunday. While Roberson’s injury may prevent her from competing in the vault finals, her teammates will undoubtedly continue to shine and make Team USA proud.
The Magnificent Seven of American gymnastics have once again proven their dominance on the world stage. With their seventh straight gold at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, they have solidified their place in history. As they set their sights on the upcoming Olympics, all eyes will be on these incredible athletes as they strive for even more magnificent moments.