Olympic women’s all-around champions: A Christian, a Jew and a Muslim
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Olympic women’s all-around champions: A Christian, a Jew and a Muslim

Awe-inspiring performances in a close match-up between American gymnasts Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, and Russian Aliya Mustafina, are a cross-section of faith, race and nationality

Russia's Aliya Mustafina (right), and Americans Simone Biles (center) and Alexandra Raisman (left) on the podium of the women's individual all-around final of the Artistic Gymnastics during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 11, 2016.
(AFP/Ben Stansall)
Russia's Aliya Mustafina (right), and Americans Simone Biles (center) and Alexandra Raisman (left) on the podium of the women's individual all-around final of the Artistic Gymnastics during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 11, 2016. (AFP/Ben Stansall)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — In a world awash in religious and sectarian tensions, the three Olympic victors in the women’s all-around gymnastics competition delivered a multi-faith mosaic on the medals podium Thursday in Rio, with a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim taking gold, silver and bronze respectively.

US sensation Simone Biles, 19, added the Olympic women’s all-around to her team title for a second gymnastics gold.

She led a US 1-2 ahead of American Jewish gymnastics star Aly Raisman, with Russia’s Aliya Mustafina, who is of Muslim descent on her father’s side, taking her second straight Olympic all-around bronze.

The victory keeps three-time world all-around champion Biles’ bid for a record five women’s gymnastics golds on track, with vault, beam and floor finals to come.

US gymnast Simone Biles celebrates with her gold medal on the podium after the women's individual all-around final of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 11, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / Thomas COEX)
US gymnast Simone Biles celebrates with her gold medal on the podium after the women’s individual all-around final of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 11, 2016. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

The three were neck-and-neck throughout the contest.

Biles finished 2.1 points ahead of Raisman (who lit the flame at the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem), wrapping up the title with a dynamic floor routine which included her signature tumbling “Biles” move named after her.

The 1.45-meter (4’9″) devout Christian Texan who regularly attends church, is competing in her first Olympics and had already helped the US women to a second straight team gold.

She launched her challenge by nailing a difficult Amanar vault scoring 15.866 despite a wobbly landing to lead Raisman by 0.233.

Mustafina pulled out 15.666 on uneven bars, on which she is the reigning Olympic champion, to lead at the half-way point by 0.034 as Biles hit 14.966 on her weakest apparatus.

Biles surged ahead again with 15.433 on the beam as Mustafina dropped back after dropping back after errors.

US gymnast Alexandra Raisman reacts after competing in the floor event of the women's individual all-around final of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 11, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL)
US gymnast Alexandra Raisman reacts after competing in the floor event of the women’s individual all-around final of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 11, 2016. (AFP/Ben Stansall)

Biles led Mustafina by 1.533 going into the final floor rotation on which she is the reigning three-time world champion.

Raisman, the Olympic floor champion, pulled out a flawless floor routine to snatch silver, which was only bettered by Biles.

(R-L) Russia's Aliya Mustafina, US gymnasts Simone Biles and Alexandra Raisman on the podium of the women's individual all-around final of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 11, 2016. Biles won the event ahead of her compatiot Raisman and Mustafina. (AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND)
(Right to left): Russia’s Aliya Mustafina, US gymnasts Simone Biles and Alexandra Raisman on the podium of the women’s individual all-around final of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 11, 2016. Biles won the event ahead of her compatiot Raisman and Mustafina. (AFP/Emmanuel Dunand)
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