Simone Biles can break the all-time record for most world championships medals this weekend, but for the US gymnastics queen, it’s about keeping calm and staying focused.
Under a year out from the Tokyo Olympics, the 22-year-old is the undisputed star of the Stuttgart championships and receives huge cheers whenever she performs.
Biles won the women’s all-around title on Thursday, the fifth time she has won the event, leaving her on 22 world medals, one short of male gymnast Vitaly Scherbo’s all-time record of 23.
Having also won team gold in Stuttgart, Biles feels “more confident than I did in Rio”, where she won four Olympic golds in 2016, and could potentially finish this weekend with six world golds from her six events.
However, she refuses to put herself under pressure for this weekend’s vault, beam, uneven bars and floor finals, saying simply “we just have to see”.
Biles has repeatedly refused to regard herself as the greatest gymnast of all time. “Everyone puts that on me, I don’t really put it on myself,” she told reporters.
Her coach Laurent Landi urged Biles to “calm down” as she closed in on Thursday’s all-around gold and the Frenchman says he is proud of the consistency she has shown in Stuttgart.
“Now, we will see how it goes in the finals,” he added.
As the reigning Olympic and world champion, Biles is favourite to win Saturday’s vault final, but faces tough competition later that day on the uneven bars.
Her challengers are current world champion Nina Derwael of Belgium and Germany’s Elisabeth Seitz, who finished ahead of Biles on Thursday.
“I just want to take a nice bar routine for her (Biles) and whatever happens, happens,” said Landi.
“There are some great names and it will be very, very tough for her to get a medal.” Biles is also favourite to win Sunday’s floor final, but has a point to prove in the day’s beam final, on which she has so far been impressive in Stuttgart.
She had to settle for bronze in the discipline at last year’s world championships in Doha and her only blip at the 2016 Olympics was in the same event.
A rare mistake, when she grabbed the beam, left her in bronze place, and it is something she has learned from.
“You have to have a good day and unfortunately it wasn’t my best day or performance in Rio, I have learned from that going into these performances,” she said.