Just a year after the 2012 London Olympics, the USA Gymnastics team dominated the field yet again at this year’s World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium. The men and women’s teams wrapped up the competition with a grand total of 12 medals, making this the USA’s most successful World Championships of all time.
2012 Olympic champions Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney, along with current US National Champion Simone Biles, proved untouchable in the Women’s competition. Newcomer Biles claimed the all-around title with the confidence of a veteran in her first year as a senior gymnast, and Ross’ stunning elegance and consistency earned her the all-around silver. Aliya Mustafina of Russia took the bronze with a rare smile.
Ross, Maroney and Biles were unstoppable in the event finals with a perfect combination of elegance, power and incredible difficulty. The trio picked up another six medals for the US in the event finals, including a gold for Biles on the floor exercise and a gold for Maroney on the vault. Half of the medals won during event finals belonged to Simone Biles, though, who earned a silver on the vault and a bronze on the balance beam. Kyla Ross settled for two silvers on the uneven bars and the balance beam, finishing less than a tenth behind the winners on both events.
McKayla Maroney’s famous fall in London shocked the world, and the disappointment that she just couldn’t hold back made her one of the most famous faces of 2012. Her charming personality and her ability to laugh about the situation earned her a worldwide fan base, several acting gigs, red carpet appearances and even a priceless photo op with President Obama.
Arguably, Maroney’s second place finish in London may be the best thing for this 17-year-old superstar. She’s back in the gym for good, stronger and more determined than ever. In Antwerp, Maroney defended her 2011 World Championship title - and her reputation as the best vaulter in the world. Her state-of-the-art Amanar vault was just as spectacular as it was in London last year, earning her a well-deserved gold medal and a clear spot on the road to Rio.
“Kyla and McKayla look in better shape than they did last summer in London, and they were in the best shape of their lives,” two-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman told NBC. “And Simone looks incredible, like she competed last year in the Olympics - so sophisticated and so confident!”
With Kyla Ross’ stunning elegance, Simone Biles’ powerful tumbling and McKayla Maroney’s untouchable vaults, the US Women proved once again that they are the best in the world, setting an impossibly high standard for their international rivals on the road to Rio.