KITAKYUSHU, Japan (AP) – Russia’s Angelina Melnikova won the women’s all-around final on Thursday to claim the first gold at the gymnastics world championships.
Melnikova, the 2020 Olympic all-around bronze medalist, built a solid lead with high scores on vault and uneven bars and finished with 56.632 points.
With defending champion Simone Biles and Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Sunisa Lee of the United States absent, the stage was set for the emergence of a new generation of gymnasts.
Leanne Wong of the United States was second with 56.340 points, followed by teammate Kayla DiCello with bronze at 54.566.
Melnikova, 21, an Olympic team gold medalist in Tokyo, won the bronze medal at the 2019 world championships. She had won four medals at previous world championships, but had never won a world title until Thursday. .
Melnikova will also compete in the four apparatus finals this weekend, the first woman to qualify for the five individual finals since Biles in 2018.
Wong was a travel alternative for Team USA to the Tokyo Games, but was forced to spend most of her time at the Olympics in quarantine after her roommate, Kara Eaker, tested positive for COVID-19.
DiCello is the 2019 Junior World Champion in vaulting.