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Fourth-Place Medal

Gymnast’s father says racial comment at World Championships was ‘out of line’

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Simone Biles. (Getty Images)

Last week, the United States' Simone Biles won the all-around title at the World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, an astonishing achievement for anyone. The fact that Biles is the first black woman to do so is one component of the story, and it's now become a prominent one.

After the event, fellow competitor Carlotta Ferlito of Italy was speaking in an interview and offered a pointed critique of Biles' victory: "I told (teammate Vanessa Ferrari) that next time we should also paint our skin black so then we can win, too."

Yeah, you can see how that might not go over so well. Biles' father Ron told USA Today the comment was "insulting," adding, "The racial comment was really out of line." He pointed out that "normally it's not in her favor being black, at least not in the world that I live in." But Biles' parents have counseled her to let the incident go, and she has not commented publicly on it.

For her part, Ferlitto apologized on Twitter:

USA Gymnastics' Steve Penny released a statement on the matter on Wednesday. "The United States is proud of its athletes and the success they achieved at our recent World Championships, especially Simone, who won the all-around title and brought home four medals," Penny wrote. "USA Gymnastics is disappointed by the recent comments made by Carlotta Ferlito and apparently by the Italian Gymnastics Federation. Gymnastics is a global and inclusive sport with talented athletes, and there is no place for racial insensitivity. We are contacting the Italian federation for clarification on its comments."

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