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U.S. women gymnasts win sixth straight world championships team gold

The U.S. women celebrate with their medals. (Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)
5 min

A year after the United States’ gold medal streak in women’s gymnastics team competitions ended, the Americans have returned to the top of the podium. The U.S. women won the world championships team title by a comfortable margin with a group featuring Olympians and newcomers on this stage.

Tuesday’s team competition in Liverpool, England, was expected to be a tight race for the medal positions. The Americans entered as the favorites for gold, but their spot atop the podium was not the near-guarantee it has been at times through the past decade when Simone Biles lifted the team far above the rest.

This U.S. squad, led by Tokyo Olympians Jordan Chiles and Jade Carey, delivered 11 solid routines with only one major lapse. The Americans won the gold with a 166.564 total, well ahead of Britain (163.363) and Canada (160.563). But all the medal-winning teams had gymnasts in tears with the results: Britain, coming off a team bronze in Tokyo, secured its best finish at world championships, and Canada, the only squad to hit all 12 routines, won its first team medal on a global stage.

Russia, the gold-winning team in Tokyo and a perennial medal contender, is still barred from international competition because of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Instead, Britain emerged as the Americans’ closest challenger. As the top two teams in the qualifying round, the United States and Britain rotated through the competition together, beginning on vault and ending on floor.

The United States held a lead throughout, including a 2.2-point edge with one apparatus to go. The Americans needed only to avoid major mistakes in the final three floor routines. World championships first-timer Shilese Jones, Carey and Chiles each had strong performances to clinch the gold, the sixth straight for the U.S. women at this event.

Chiles, the only American to contribute on each apparatus, performed like a steady veteran, highlighted by her excellent beam routine after struggling with multiple falls in qualifying three days ago. Jones, 20, was the second-place finisher at U.S. nationals this summer but had never before competed at worlds or the Olympics. In Liverpool, she had strong showings on vault, bars and floor. Performing with artistry and amplitude, Jones has had a standout season and will be a medal favorite in the all-around competition. National champion Konnor McClain withdrew from the U.S. selection process for world championships with an injury.

The United States handed Britain a brief opportunity to close the gap when 17-year-old Skye Blakely fell on a difficult skill on beam, a backflip with a full twist. The rest of her routine was superb, and she still earned the team’s second-best score on the apparatus (13.266) ahead of Carey, who didn’t have a major mistake but has a lower difficulty score and more minor execution deductions. Britain’s final competitor on beam fell moments later, allowing the Americans to reclaim their cushion.

Among the U.S. gymnasts, Carey had the top score on vault (14.800) and floor (14.100), while Jones paced the team on bars (14.333) and Chiles on beam (13.333).

Three gymnasts on this team — Chiles, Carey and Leanne Wong — competed in NCAA gymnastics last year before returning to the elite ranks for the summer and fall. Wong contributed only on bars; despite not competing on that apparatus during qualifying, she executed a strong routine in the final.

Sunisa Lee, the Olympic all-around champion in Tokyo and a sophomore in college, has yet to return to elite competition. Biles said she hasn’t retired, but she hasn’t shared firm plans that she’ll train for another Olympics. Before last summer’s Games, the Americans had won the team gold at every world championships and Olympics from 2011 to 2019, often by wide margins as Biles dominated. With this new-look team, the United States managed to return to the sport’s pinnacle after taking the silver in Tokyo.

With every score counting toward the total, any error can send a team tumbling out of medal contention. China began the competition on beam, and its first athlete, Tang Xijing, fell three times. Another Chinese gymnast fell off the apparatus, and China was in last after the first rotation, ultimately climbing to sixth place out of eight teams. Italy, which finished fifth, had similar trouble early in the competition with multiple athletes falling on release elements during their bars routines.

Brazil, headlined by Olympic all-around silver medalist Rebeca Andrade and two-time Olympian Flavia Saraiva, has turned into a global contender in team competitions. But Saraiva was limited by an injury and could only contribute on bars. The team landed in fourth.

While the United States and Britain seemed poised to finish as the top two teams, Japan and Canada battled for the bronze with their final routines. As the final competitor from Japan, Fukasawa Kokoro had a disastrous performance on bars, sending the team all the way to seventh. Longtime Canadian star Ellie Black capitalized with a solid beam routine and ended the evening sobbing before receiving her country’s first world championships team medal.