Biles leads qualifying despite kidney stones

Biles leads qualifying despite kidney stones

INSPIRING: Simone Biles of the US competes in the women's floor qualification of the Artistic Gymnastics Championship in Doha on Saturday. AFP

Olympic champion Simone Biles soared to the top of all-around qualifying at the world gymnastics championships on Saturday just hours after visiting a Doha emergency room for kidney stone problems.

Aiming for her fourth world all-around title, Biles piled up 60.965 points and even had a vault, 'The Biles', named after her, USA Gymnastics said. As she had insisted in a tweet on Friday, the kidney stone problem, which kept her in the emergency room for several hours less than 24 hours before she competed, was no showstopper.

The American was not only first in the all-around but also vault, beam and floor qualifying and second in uneven bars through five of the qualifying groups.

That she went ahead with the competition was not surprising, said US team 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," Forster said.

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

"I heard roller-coasters may help kidney stones and I am basically my own little roller-coaster out there," she said after competing on Saturday.

"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 team-mates 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."

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

Winner of four gold medals and a bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the 10-times world champion had taken 2017 off before successfully returning to competition earlier this year. Her performance and that of team-mate Morgan Hurd put the United States in first place in qualifying, well ahead of Japan. 

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