Gymnastics: American Simone Biles retains world all-around title

Simone Biles of the US gives the thumbs up to supporters after winning the women's all-around final at the Gymnastics World Championships in Nanning, in China's southern Guangxi province on Oct 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Simone Biles of the US gives the thumbs up to supporters after winning the women's all-around final at the Gymnastics World Championships in Nanning, in China's southern Guangxi province on Oct 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

SATO NANNING, China (AFP) - American Simone Biles retained her world women's all-around gymnastics title Friday, fighting off a late challenge from Romania's Larisa Andreea Iordache.

The 17-year-old Biles finished the four-apparatus final at 60.231 points, 0.466 better than Iordache at 59.765.

Fellow American Kyla Ross, the 2013 runner-up to Biles, finished third at 58.232 in the final at the 4,000-seat Guangxi Gymnasium in Nanning, China.

Biles had a capacity crowd behind her as they roared each time she made four dynamic tumbling passes on the floor in her final rotation to beat the Romanian.

"It means the world to me," Biles said of the excitement she gets from each competition.

"It's one of my favourite things to do is compete for a crowd. It's just really fun for me."

The 145cm gymnast admitted she was not immune to the pressure of being a defending champion. She won back-to-back US championships this year.

"Pressure from other people, but then I don't take it, so it's okay. But there's a little bit."

Iordache, the European floor champion, finished in the medals, climbing up from her fourth place finish last year.

"I am quite pleased with what I did today, but that does not mean I can not do even better," she said, insisting she could even catch Biles any day now.

"Everything is possible at any one competition. Today I did not get gold but next time there is always a chance."

Biles became the first female gymnast since Russia's Svetlana Khorkina in 2003 to win a second straight all-around world crown.

She is also the second US woman to ever win back-to-back world all-around titles with Shannon Miller trailing the blaze in 1993 and 1994.

Bunched in an elite rotational group of top six qualifiers, Biles took a 0.700-lead after her first apparatus, vault.

But the cushion wore off with China's Yao Jinnan topping the table on uneven bars and Iordache dominated balance beam by landing safely on the padded beam after a twisted back salto.

Biles stood just 0.133 points clear of the 18-year-old Romanian going into the final event, floor exercise.

But Iordache stepped out of bounds after one of her dynamic tumbling passes for a 0.1-point deduction to score 14.733.

Biles, the defending world floor champion, performed last on the night. she soared high and landed clean in an overwhelming performance which left the crowd assured of her victory before her score of 15.066 was put on the board.

It was her second gold at these championships as she led her 16-year-old and 17-year-old teammates to a second straight women's team title on Wednesday.

There were scary moments on balance beam when Biles saved herself from the verge of falling. She lost her balance momentarily after a triple back salto and after another back flip.

"I don't really know. I don't get nervous for it, but I try not to fall and then I end up almost falling," she recalled.

Ross, who turns 18 at the end of this month, fought through the barrier pain as she hurt her hip and thigh at a US training camp.

"I wasn't really sure how I would be able to compete at the world championships, but I was able to push through and I was really proud of myself for that."