NBC Sports- Simone Biles would lose count of her world gymnastics championships medals if she wasn’t reminded of the number at nearly every interview stop in the mixed zone.
“I never think of medal counts or anything,” she said after winning her record-tying 23rd and record-extending 17th gold in the vault final on Saturday, the penultimate day of worlds. “I let everyone else do the counting for me.
“I couldn’t tell you how many I have if you didn’t tell me already.”
Biles was joined on the vault podium by Jade Carey, who earned her second vault silver in three years despite taking a large step out of the central landing area on her second vault.
Biles performed exquisite vaults — a Cheng and an Amanar — with just small hops on each landing. The scores — 15.333 and 15.466 — were the highest of the 16 total vaults performed by the eight women in the final. She chose not to throw her eponymous vault that carries more difficulty.
Later Saturday, Biles finished fifth on uneven bars, her weakest event, with the same score that earned her silver last year. Belgian Nina Derwael repeated as world champ. American Sunisa Lee earned her first individual world medal — a silver.
“I couldn’t be more happy,” Biles said of her day. “I’m not even mad about [bars]. I knew going into today there was a very slim chance that I would even medal.”
Biles can still break her tie with 1990s Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo for the total medals record Sunday on the balance beam or the floor exercise, the last two finals. She is the favorite on both events.
Biles has said she is 99 percent sure these will be her final worlds. That would set up the Tokyo Games to be her final competition.
“I never think, oh, this could be my last,” she said. “I kind of cherish the moment.”
In other events Saturday, French gymnast Samir Ait Said, who gruesomely broke his leg on a Rio Olympic vault landing, qualified for the Tokyo Games by earning the last available spot from the still rings final.
Said, whose father died in February, earned bronze and knocked Greek Olympic still rings champion Eleftherios Petrounias off the podium and out of an automatic Olympic spot. Petrounias can still qualify for the Olympics via another route next year. Turkey’s Ibrahim Colak took gold, his nation’s first world title.
Brit Max Whitlock earned his third world title on pommel horse. Whitlock will go to Tokyo looking to become the first repeat Olympic pommel horse champion in 40 years.
Carlos Yulo became the first Filipino gymnast to win a world title, prevailing on floor by one tenth. Yulo, 19, became the first Filipino medalist when he earned floor bronze last year.