STUTTGART    -      There is a point at which words fail. Even the most comprehensive thesaurus runs out of adjectives for the sort of excellence that Simone Biles brings to gymnastics. The only option is to marvel, applaud and revel in the privilege of watching, as a capacity crowd did Thursday at the 2019 World Gymnastics Championships, where Biles soared to her fifth all-around world gold medal, winning by a 2.100-point margin, the largest of her world titles.

In doing so, two days after leading the US women to their fifth consecutive world team championship, Biles extended her career haul of world medals to 22, including a record 16 golds. And her work is not done. Biles has a chance at four more medals before the competition ends. She’ll vie for the individual honors on vault and uneven bars Saturday and return Sunday to contest balance beam and floor exercise. Having posted the top marks on three of those four events Thursday, Biles is all but certain to eclipse Vitaly Scherbo’s record of 23 world medals.

Taking silver was Tang Xijing of China. Russia’s Angelina Melnikova took bronze. In what was likely Biles’ final world championship, 16-year-old Sunisa Lee, the youngest member of the US delegation, fell shy of her potential and finished eighth, hurt by an uncharacteristic fall on uneven bars, which is her strength.

As customary, Biles gave judges virtually nothing to quibble about in performing skills few of her rivals even attempt. She scored top marks on vault, beam and floor. Competing Thursday in a white sequined leotard, Biles looked like a weightless angel. And her ability to project weightlessness while doing impossibly difficult gymnastics, as if she truly can fly, is part of her brilliance. It was fitting and poetic that she closed the competition with a floor exercise chocked with skills that she alone can execute to perfection — most notably, the triple-twisting, double-somersault that now bears her name. She had the arena in her hands as she stepped onto the mat.

Perhaps it was a sign of her over-amped exuberance that she stepped out of bounds on the triple-double and again at the conclusion of another tumbling pass. But Biles’s degree of difficulty is so high that minor deductions for such infractions don’t come close to bringing her scores down to mortal realm. Biles opened on vault, a strength, and showed why she’s the reigning world and Olympic champion on the apparatus with the amplitude of her Cheng — an exceedingly difficult skill few women perform. Her score of 15.233 proved highest. She acquitted herself well on uneven bars, her least favorite event. Lee’s bars routine, however, went awry almost at once, with a costly fall. She collected herself and finished the routine but scored 13.330, well below her potential.

On beam, Biles opted not to conclude with the double-double dismount that now bears her name, after she became the first to successfully execute the skill during qualifying earlier in the competition. Even without it, her beam routine was plenty difficult and executed with only a small wobble to send her into the final rotation — floor exercise — with a 1.300-point lead over China’s Tang.

As the final major international competition before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the 2019 world championships is a bellwether for the upcoming Summer Games. Biles is on track to become the first woman in 52 years to win back-to-back Olympic all-around gold medals, since Vera Caslavska of former Czechoslovakia did so at the 1964 and ’68 Olympics. But any parallel to that half-century-old achievement is strained, at best. Today’s gymnastics skills are far more demanding, complex and dangerous.

Credit Biles for pushing those boundaries — but not because she’s being pushed by a rival or young upstart. She is not. Biles is competing against her own potential, which is seemingly limitless. It’s extremely rare for female gymnasts to maintain championship form over two Olympic cycles. And it’s almost unheard of for those who qualify for back-t0-back Olympics to raise their technical level as Biles has since the 2016 Rio Games, where she won four golds, including the prestigious all-around, and a bronze.

“The few athletes that have tried to come back, very often they’re repeating the same skills they did four years earlier, which usually is not enough because the sport is continually evolving,” said Tom Forster, US women’s team coordinator. “Simone is really, really unique in that sense. I don’t think anyone ever has shown up at their potentially second Olympics stronger than their first, if they were the champion. This is a totally different level of competition than the world has ever seen before.”

What makes Biles exceptional is a combination of factors. At just 4-foot-8, she has remarkable power. She also has impeccable form, which means there’s no extraneous motion in her gymnastics. Mentally, she’s strong as granite. And despite her mountain of medals, she trains and competes with a hunger that’s not sated by past achievements. She is all about pushing herself and pushing her sport. Said Liang Chow, former coach of four-time Olympic medalists Shawn Johnson and current coach of China’s women’s team: “She is absolutely the best I have ever seen.”