Simone Biles becomes most decorated gymnast ever with 34th elite level medal

Simone Biles celebrates with her gold medal.
Simone Biles' medal was her 34th at an Olympics or World Championship. Credit: AP

Simone Biles became the most decorated gymnast in history after sealing her sixth career world all-around title at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp.

The tournament marks the American's return to major international competition after a two-year absence, and on Wednesday she led her team to a record seventh straight title.

Biles' golden comeback continued in record-breaking style as she finished with a top score of 58.399, 1.633 points above Brazilian silver medallist Rebeca Andrade, with compatriot Shilese Jones rounding out the top three.

Friday's medal was Biles' 34th at an Olympics or World Championship, the most achieved by a male or female gymnast in the history of the sport after surpassing the 33 achieved by Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo.

The 26-year-old's historic gold came precisely 10 years - and in the exact same venue - as her first world all-around title in 2013, and she appeared to be welling up when the American national anthem played.

Biles told NBC: "I was emotional because it was my first worlds here 10 years ago, and then now my sixth one, so it is crazy.

"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."

Biles could still add more medals to her collection with the individual apparatus finals still to come on Saturday and Sunday - Biles has qualified for all four.

There was drama for Great Britain before the all-around competition even got under way.

Biles described her win as 'emotional'. Credit: AP

Jessica Gadirova, the 2022 world floor champion, dropped out of the event at the last minute, with British Gymnastics announcing the decision in a tweet which read: "Update. As a precautionary measure Jessica Gadirova will not be competing in tonight’s all-around World final, Alice Kinsella will now compete in her place for Great Britain."

Kinsella ultimately finished seventh with a score of 54.032, while team-mate Ondine Achampong placed 13th in her first world all-around final.

Kinsella, the 2023 British national all-around champion, admitted the dramatic call-up came as a shock.

She told the BBC: "I only went [out] to do little bits and bobs like stretching, conditioning, and then I went off to get my foot rubbed, then my coach came over and was like, 'Alice, you need to get your leotard on straight away'.

"I was a bit stressed, I didn't really know what to do or say to anyone. I just ran to the toilet, shoved it on, and that was it really."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…