On Friday, Olympic great Simone Biles broke yet another record with her win at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Belgium. The 26-year-old athlete was awarded her sixth all-around world championship gold, making her the most decorated gymnast ever. She was previously tied with Belarus gymnast Vitaly Scherbo, who competed in the 1990s and took home 33 medals. Biles is now at 34.
It was an emotional moment for Biles as she stood on the podium during the U.S. national anthem, alongside silver winner Rebeca Andrade and bronze winner Shilese Jones. Cameras caught her getting a bit misty-eyed while soaking in the accolades.
“I was emotional because it was my first worlds here, 10 years ago, and then now my sixth one, so it’s crazy,” Biles told reporters after the competition. “But I swear, I do have something in my eye that’s been bothering me for like four hours and I cannot get it out… So while I was looking up there, it was like a combination of both.”
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The champion’s success is particularly poignant this year. She only returned to competing this summer after stepping back following the 2020 Olympic Games, which were held in Tokyo in 2021. At the time, Biles was experiencing something gymnasts call the “twisties,” a very dangerous change in perception that makes it extremely difficult to land safely when doing their gravity-defying moves in the air. That year, she withdrew from some events effected by the condition, but won bronze at the balance beam final.
During the world championships, Biles has earned two golds so far, including one during the U.S. team final on Wednesday, and she is still set to compete in the women’s vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor routine. She will likely make her return to the Olympics in Paris which are set for 2024.