Gymnastics: Russia's Melnikova wins world all-around title

Russia's Angelina Melnikova competes in the women's all-around final during the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, on Oct 21, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

KITAKYUSHU, Japan (AFP) - Russia's Angelina Melnikova won the women's all-around title at the world gymnastics championships in Japan on Thursday (Oct 21), beating a pair of American teenagers to the gold.

Melnikova, who claimed all-around bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, finished with a score of 56.632, ahead of Leanne Wong on 56.340 and Kayla DiCello on 54.566.

A host of gymnastics' top names - including American superstar Simone Biles - decided not to compete this week in Kitakyushu, in western Japan, just months after the Tokyo Games.

Melnikova's gold medal improved upon the all-around bronze she won at the world championships in Stuttgart in 2019.

She also won team gold with Russia at the Olympics this summer.

Eighteen-year-old Wong, who was an alternate for the Tokyo Games this summer, finished second in her first world championships appearance.

DiCello, 17, fell during her uneven bars routine but recovered to claim third ahead of Russia's Vladislava Urazova.

Japan's Hitomi Hatakeda, who qualified for the final in fourth place, was forced to withdraw on Wednesday after suffering a serious spinal injury in training.

Hatakeda fell off the uneven bars and was diagnosed with damage to her central spinal cord and bruising of the cervical vertebrae.

A Japan Gymnastics Association official said Thursday that Hatakeda was conscious but had no further update on her condition.

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