DOHA: Simone Biles overcame the drama of being rushed to hospital with a kidney stone in a hugely impressive return to international competition just hours later at the world championships on Saturday.
The American superstar capped 24 hours of personal drama by being well ahead of her rivals on day one of qualifications, having a new vault named after her and even gave the much-spoken about kidney stone a nickname.
The ten-time world champion, back on the international stage for the first time since the Rio Olympics, finished on 60.965 points, comfortably ahead of defending champion and compatriot Morgan Hurd, who finished on 56.465.
Japan’s Mai Murakami finished in third place, on 55.632 after qualifiers on the vault, uneven bars, beam and floor exercise.
Biles also finished a provisional first place in the vault, beam and floor competitions.
The only apparatus in which she did not claim top spot was the uneven bars, where she finished second to Belgium’s Nina Derwael.
“I heard rollercoasters may help kidney stones and I am basically my own little rollercoaster out there,” said the 21-year-old after competition.
It was an ominous day for her rivals and provided a potential taster ahead of Biles’ expected dominance this week in Qatar.
And it capped a remarkable 24 hours for the Ohio native, who was admitted to a Doha hospital late on Friday suffering from the kidney stone.
“Nothing like a late night ER visit less than 24 hours before world championships,” she tweeted at the time of her dash to hospital.
She also posted a picture of herself in the emergency room but vowed it would not keep her out of the competition, a promise she duly kept in impressive fashion.
On Saturday, she joked she would name the stone, the ‘Doha Pearl’.
Biles’ American squad were also well ahead in the team standings ahead of further qualifiers on Sunday.
The US dominated on 174.429 points, with Japan second on 162.180 and Germany 161.071.
Biles, 21, is making her return to the world stage after deciding to take a year off in 2017 following her triumphant showing at the Rio Olympics, where she won four golds.
She is part of an exceptionally strong US unit who are the favourites for team gold, as Biles is herself for several individual events.
Biles won golds at the 2013, 2014 and 2015 world championships, including two in the team event.
If she claims three gold medals in Doha it will make her the first gymnast, female or male, to win 13 world titles.