Biles shrugs off ER scare to lead world qualifiers

Simone Biles in the floor qualification on Saturday at the 48th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at Aspire Dome in Doha. She will deal with her kidney stone problems only after the competition.
Simone Biles in the floor qualification on Saturday at the 48th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at Aspire Dome in Doha. She will deal with her kidney stone problems only after the competition.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

DOHA • Olympic champion Simone Biles soared to the top of all-around qualifying at gymnastics' World Championships on Saturday just hours after visiting a emergency room for kidney stone problems.

The American, back on the international stage since the 2016 Rio Olympics after taking 2017 off, is aiming for her fourth world all-around title. She chalked up 60.965 points on day one of qualifying, and had a new vault, The Bile, named after her. She even jokingly gave it a nickname, the Doha Pearl.

As she had insisted in a tweet on Friday, the problem, which kept her in the emergency room for several hours less than 24 hours before she competed, was no showstopper.

The 21-year-old came in a provisional first in the vault, beam and floor and was second in only one apparatus, in the uneven bars behind Belgium's Nina Derwael.

Despite the pain, Biles had a sense of humour about the episode.

"Nothing like a late-night ER visit less than 24 hours before world championships," she tweeted at the time of her dash to hospital in Qatar.

After dominating the field, she said: "I heard roller coasters may help kidney stones and I am basically my own little roller coaster out there. It has been a rough 24 hours, but I am definitely better than yesterday.

"Yesterday, I was kind of crawling on the floor. Today, I can stand, so it's better.

"Without my teammates, I don't think I would have the confidence to go out there and do the routines I did. I am here for the team."

That she went ahead with the competition was not surprising, said the United States team's high performance director Tom Forster.

"She's Simone, you would expect the same out of a Michael Jordan or a Tiger Woods and that's who she is in our sport," he said.

The competition is so important to Biles that she said she planned to wait until after the championships to deal with the kidney stone, which means she is likely to be in pain throughout the next seven days.

Biles won four gold medals and a bronze at the 2016 Olympics and has 10 world titles. She returned to competition earlier this year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2018, with the headline 'Biles shrugs off ER scare to lead world qualifiers'. Print Edition | Subscribe