Road To The Olympic Games

Gymnastics·Preview

Can anything stop Simone Biles at the artistic gymnastics worlds?

Simone Biles has returned for her first international competition since winning four gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Despite being hospitalized for kidney stones on Friday, she'll lead an American squad that is heavily favoured to claim the world title.

4-time Olympic gold medallist has not competed outside U.S. since dominating in Rio

American superstar Simone Biles, pictured above at the U.S. gymnastics championship in August, returns for her first international competition since Rio this week at the artistic gymnastics worlds in Doha. (Elise Amendola/The Associated Press)

All eyes are on American superstar Simone Biles this week as the 48th artistic world gymnastics championships continue in Doha.

The 21-year-old has returned for her first international competition since winning four gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Biles has been a dominant force in the sport since making her international debut in 2013. Despite being hospitalized for kidney stones on Friday, she'll lead an American squad that is heavily favoured to claim the world title.

The team's burgeoning star Morgan Hurd is returning to defend her all-around title. The 17-year-old phenom burst onto the international stage in 2017 and appears poised to help the Americans continue their reign atop the podium. She was runner-up to Biles at the national championships in August.

Here's what to watch for at the championships

Anson Henry talks about some of the storylines heading into the Artistic Gymnastics world championships. 1:21

'I stand with all of them'

Despite their strong presence on the competition floor, U.S. gymnastics is in a state of disarray as the organization remains in turmoil over former team doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse scandal.

Biles was one of several recent Olympians to come forward about the abuse. While making history at the U.S. championships as the first woman in 24 years to win gold on every apparatus, Biles donned a teal leotard that symbolizes those affected by sexual violence.

"I stand with all of them, and I think it's kind of special to unite," Biles told ESPN at the time.

While the lawsuits and the leadership void that followed the Nassar revelation have taken some of the shine off of the program, it remains an unparalleled gymnastics powerhouse.

It'll be crucial for them to remain focused on the competition in Doha, as the top three teams at the 2018 worlds will automatically secure a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Mustafina marks her return

Biles won't be the only international star launching a comeback, as Aliya Mustafina is competing just 16 months after giving birth to daughter Alisa. She was part of the Russian team that took silver behind the Americans in Rio.

The 24-year-old heads a group of three worlds rookies but will have help from Rio teammate Angelina Melnikova.

Black leads the Canadian charge

Canada will also be well represented, with 2017 worlds all-around silver medallist Ellie Black back to lead the team.

The 23-year-old from Halifax went on to collect all-around gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games before dominating at the Canadian nationals.

Ellie Black, pictured above at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, is set to lead Canada's team at this year's worlds. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

She'll be joined by Canadian teenagers Laurie Denommee, Brooklyn Moors, Shallon Olsen, Sophie Marois and Anne Marie Padurariu.

The Canadian program is also in the midst of some upheaval, as its former national women's gymnastics coach Dave Brubaker is currently being tried for sexual assault.

On the men's side, Canadian all-around champion Rene Cournoyer will be making his second worlds appearance after making a 69th-place debut last year. Veterans Scott Morgan and Jackson Payne will also be competing alongside Cory Paterson, Zachary Clay and Sam Zakutney.

The artistic gymnastics worlds include four different competition phases, beginning with team and individual qualifications, which started Thursday.

Competition continues through Nov. 3 with the team finals, all-around finals and apparatus finals (floor, pommel horse, rings, vault and uneven bars).

CBC Sports will live stream coverage beginning on Monday at 8:55 a.m. ET with the men's team final, followed by the women's team final on Tuesday at 8:55 a.m. ET.

Event coverage continues through Nov. 2 with the men's and women's all-around finals.

Sponsored Content

now