Since 2011, team USA women’s gymnastics has been on fire—and the powerhouse athletes doesn’t show any signs of cooling down.
Yesterday, the American women clinched gold at the 2018 Artistic World Championships in Doha, Qatar, marking their fourth consecutive team title and extending a winning streak that started seven years ago. The squad of five earned 171.629 points to defeat the silver medal team from Russia by 8.766 points, the greatest margin of victory at a major international competition—men’s or women’s—since the modern scoring system was introduced in 2006, according to USA Today. China secured bronze.
Even more impressive, the gold medal crew contained just one Olympic veteran—21-year-old Simone Biles—with younger athletes filling the other spots, showcasing the depth of up-and-coming talent on Team USA.
Here, what you need to know about the victorious squad, their latest feat, and what it means for the American athletes going forward.
The squad was led by Biles, four-time Olympic gold medalist, who won multiple events yesterday despite a recent kidney stone diagnosis.
On Friday—as in, five days ago—Biles was in the emergency room until 1 A.M. with a kidney stone. Yet she didn’t let the painful condition derail her focus. In fact, she didn’t even have it removed. “We will deal with it after world championships!” Biles wrote on Twitter on Sunday of the kidney stone. “Fingers crossed it stays OK!!!”
Based on her performance yesterday, the diagnosis did little to slow her down. Biles competed in all four events and earned the top score in three—vault, uneven bars, and floor exercise. The team win earned Biles, widely considered as one of the greatest female gymnasts of all time, her 15th world championship medal.
As mentioned, Biles’ teammates included four relative newcomers—all never-before Olympians.
Aside from Biles, Morgan Hurd, 17, was the only other American athlete who had previously competed in a world championships. Hurd, who won the all-around competition at last year’s world championships, scored third on vault yesterday. Kara Eaker, 15, won the balance beam. Riley McCusker, 17, earned the third-best score on the uneven bars and fifth-highest on balance beam. Grace McCallum, who turned 16 yesterday, competed on vault and floor.
Their team performance was obviously great—but it wasn’t perfect, which makes the win that much more impressive.
Biles stumbled during her beam routine, and stepped out of bounds during the floor exercise, The Associated Press reports. Hurd also made several mistakes on the floor, reported Team USA. Yet these errors weren’t enough to threaten the Americans’ chance at gold—not even slightly. To put their 8.766-point margin of victory into perspective, the gap between second place Russia and eighth place Germany (the lowest scoring team of the competition) was a mere 3.43 points.
With the win, Team USA officially qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Team USA, along with Russia and China, officially earned entry to the next Olympic Games, scheduled for summer 2020 in Japan. Nine additional countries will qualify for the Games at the 2019 World Artistic Championships in Stuttgart, per USA Gymnastics.
According to Team USA, the American athletes who make up the next Olympic team won’t be selected until the next U.S. Olympic Trials, which will take place in early summer 2020. Per a recent change to international sport rules, which reduced the size of national teams, just four women will make the cut. If this year’s crop of athletes is any indication, there will be plenty of outstanding gymnasts to consider.
Here’s how to watch the women’s individual finals happening over the next few days.
If you missed the team finals, you can still watch these athletes go for the gold in their individual final events.
Biles will be competing in the all-around finals on Thursday, November 1. She will also be competing in the floor exercise, uneven bars, balance beam, and vault finals, taking place from Friday, November 2, to Sunday, November 4.
Hurd will also be competing in the finals for all-around, floor exercise, and uneven bars. Eaker will be competing in the balance beam finals.
For more information on times and channels, visit NBC Sports.