Hurd, 16, earns shock gold for US after Smith's pullout

Debutante Morgan Hurd did not even expect to be in Canada, let alone win the gold. She was picked for the team only at a selection camp.
Debutante Morgan Hurd did not even expect to be in Canada, let alone win the gold. She was picked for the team only at a selection camp.

MONTREAL • United States teenager Morgan Hurd snatched a surprise women's all-around gold on Friday at the injury-hit World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

The bespectacled 16-year-old, who was born in China and adopted as a toddler, followed in the footsteps of celebrated compatriot Simone Biles, by ably shouldering US hopes after national champion Ragan Smith withdrew minutes before the competition with an ankle injury.

It was a stunning World Championships debut for Hurd, who was sixth at the American national championships in August but secured a place on the four-woman US team in Canada at a selection camp last month.

"It's crazy that I was even competing here," Hurd said. "To think that I won is just the most surreal feeling in the world."

She won with a total of 55.232 points, denying home hope Ellie Black of Canada, who took silver with 55.132. Russian Elena Eremina was third with 54.799, while Japan's Mai Murakami narrowly missed the podium with 54.699.

Hurd sealed the win with her final routine, the floor exercise, erasing a deficit of two-tenths of a point to surpass Black.

It was a disappointment to fans at the 1976 Olympic venue, but Black became the first Canadian gymnast, man or woman, to win an Olympic or world all-around medal.

Hurd continued a long streak of success for US women in all-around competition.

An American has won every Olympic or world women's all-around title since 2011.

Hurd opened the competition by scoring 14.533 on the vault, which put her fourth. She was tied with Black for the lead after the second rotation, earning 14.300 on the parallel bars.

A 12.666 on the balance beam left her second going into the final rotation, and her floor exercise score of 13.733 - despite stepping out of bounds on her third tumbling run - was enough to give her the title.

The competition was missing the top four finishers from last year's Rio Games. Two competitors touted as favourites going into the week were also absent - Smith and Romania's Laris Iordache.

Smith left on crutches after hurting herself warming up for her opening vault. Iordache, a two-time world all-around medallist, tore an Achilles tendon warming up for the floor exercise before qualifying on Wednesday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 08, 2017, with the headline 'Hurd, 16, earns shock gold for US after Smith's pullout'. Print Edition | Subscribe