Road To The Olympic Games


Simone Biles wins all-around gold, Black places Canadian-best 5th

American Simone Biles captures gold in the women's all-around gymnastics gold medal Thursday, while Ellie Black earned Canada's best-ever Olympic finish, placing fifth at the Rio Olympics.

American continues jaw-dropping peformance

Gold medallist Simone Biles of the United States celebrates after the medal ceremony for the women's individual all-around competition. (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

By Will Graves, The Associated Press

Forget the pressure. Forget the hype. Simone Biles is immune to all of it.

Dynamic on vault. Effortless on beam. Jaw-dropping on floor. Brilliant all over. And now, finally, an individual Olympic champion.

The 19-year-old American soared to the all-around title on Thursday, putting the gap between herself and the rest of the world on full display under the Olympic spotlight. Her total of 62.198 was well clear of silver medalist and "Final Five" teammate Aly Raisman and Russian bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina.

Biles became the fourth straight American woman to win the all-around title and fifth overall while cementing her reputation as the best of her generation and perhaps ever. She burst into tears when her final total was posted and her long journey to this moment ended.

Biles has spent the last three years dominating her sport, winning 15 world championship medals — including 10 gold — with routines so astonishing in their mix of ambition and precision that 1984 Olympic champion Mary Lou Retton called her "the greatest gymnast I've ever seen."

One last test awaited in Brazil, a contest not so much between Biles and the rest of the field but between herself and the burden of oversized expectations. Anything less than heading back to her family's home in Spring, Texas, with a fistful of golds would be seen as a disappointment.

Biles earned the first one on Tuesday while serving as the exclamation point to retiring national team coordinator Martha Karolyi's going away party. While Biles insisted she's never looked ahead during her long run at the top, that's not exactly true.

A portion of her floor exercise routine — the one that includes her signature tumbling pass — is set to Latin music that would fit right at home in the street right outside the Rio Olympic Arena. It's not a coincidence.

The girl adopted by her grandparents as a toddler and discovered by coach Aimee Boorman's mother during a field trip to the gym where Boorman was coaching has become a force. She hasn't lost an all-around competition since the summer of 2013, a winning streak that should go for as long as Biles wants it to.

Though Mustafina took a small lead through two rotations, it was a mirage. Balance beam and floor exercise — where Biles is the defending world champion — lay in wait. She went back in front with a 15.433 on beam — and capped it with a 15.933 on floor. Raisman hugged her gently as they awaited the final score — a mere formality — and tears appeared around Biles' glittery red, white and blue eyeliner when the vision she once wrote in a scrapbook became a reality. Raisman's performance was a bit of revenge from four years ago, when she tied for third but lost the bronze to Mustafina on a tiebreaker. This time, the 22-year-old team captain the Americans call "grandma" was well ahead. She blew kisses to the crowd after her floor exercise, overcome by a comeback that at times seemed in doubt.

Ellie Black earns top Canadian Olympic finish

Ellie Black earned Canada's best ever Olympic finish in the women's individual all-around gymnastics, finishing in fifth place.

The Halifax native completed the competition with an overall score of 58.298, and bested Bonnie Wittmeier's 13th place finish in the event at Los Angeles 1984.

"I couldn't have asked for a better way to finish my Olympics. I've been working so hard," Black said, who aimed for a top-eight finish going in.

"I have been working so hard for the all-around competition. I'm good at a couple of events but I really wanted to work on the all-around.

"Last Olympics I didn't get the chance to compete in the all-around. So coming into here, I really wanted to show just the potential that I can do and show that Canada is one of those countries gunning for those top spots."

Canadian all-around champion Isabela Onyshko, 18, of Brandon, Man., finished in 18th place with a score of 56.365.

Black had a best-ever result for Canada at the 2015 world championships when she finished seventh in the all-around.

She was the most decorated Canadian athlete at last year's Pan Am Games, including a gold in the individual all-around — the first by a Canadian since 1979.

U.S. gymnastics star Simone Biles captured the all-around gold with a score of 62.198. American Aly Raisman captured silver with a score of 60.098, with Russia's Aliya Mustafina awarded the bronze medal with 58.665.

With files from The Canadian Press and CBC Sports 


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