By Pritha Sarkar
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – All-around champion Simone Biles scooped her third gold medal at the Olympics when she soared to victory in the vault final on Sunday.
The American beat world champion Maria Paseka of Russia with a score of 15.966 from her two vaults. Paseka claimed silver and Switzerland’s Giulia Steingruber pipped India’s Dipa Karmakar by 0.15 of a point to take bronze.
Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina, bidding to become the oldest ever gymnast to win an Olympic medal at the age of 41, finished seventh out of the eight finalists after over-rotating on her Produnova.
For Biles it seemed business as usual, with little over-the-top celebration as she captured the third of what could be a record haul of five golds.
Biles said the win was especially satisfying as she has never won the vault in the world championships.
“It was good, I feel very excited because having gone to worlds and having two silvers and a bronze it means a lot to me … It’s something that I wanted so badly,” she said.
There was a little hop following her opening Amanar vault, a 2-1/2 twisting back somersault. When she launched into the air for a second time, she was foot perfect as she nailed the landing from her Cheng vault, a round off half turn into the table, followed by 1-1/2 twisting front somersault.
An ear-to-ear grin and a high-five with coach Aimee Boorman completed another golden day for the 19-year-old who is proving to be an unbeatable force in Rio.
Paseka, the silver medalist, told Reuters: “I could have done the second vault better. I want to be first of course, but I look at Simone and I understand at the moment she’s untouchable.”
(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)