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Hurd captures surprise all-around World gymnastics gold

© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP | Morgan Hurd of the US competes during the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Montreal, Canada

MONTREAL (AFP) - 

US teenager Morgan Hurd snatched a surprise women's all-around gold on Friday at the injury-hit World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

The bespectacled 16-year-old, who was born in China and adopted as a toddler, followed in the footsteps of celebrated compatriot Simone Biles -- ably shouldering US hopes after national champion Ragan Smith withdrew minutes before the competition with an ankle injury.

It was a stunning World Championships debut for Hurd, who was sixth at the P&G Championships in August but secured a place on the four-woman US team for the championships at a selection camp in September.

Hurd won with a total of 55.232 points, denying home hope Ellie Black of Canada who took silver with 55.132.

Russian Elena Eremina was third with 54.799, with Mai Murukami narrowly missing the podium with a total of 54.699.

Hurd sealed the win with her final routine, the floor exercise, erasing a deficit of two-tenths of a point to surpass Black.

It was a disappointment to fans at the 1976 Olympic venue, but Black became the first Canadian gymnast, man or woman, to win an Olympic or world all-around medal.

The competition lacked the top four finishers form last year's Rio Games.

Two competitors touted as favorites going into the week were also absent -- Smith and Romania's Laris Iordache.

Smith left on crutches after hurting herself warming up for her opening vault.

USA Gymnastics said she was taken to hospital for X-rays.

Iordache, a two-time world all-around medalist, tore an Achilles tendon warming up for floor exercise before qualifying on Wednesday -- three days after Japanese superstar Kohei Uchimura pulled out of the men's qualifying with torn ligament in his ankle.

In Uchimura's absence, China's Xiao Ruoteng won the men's all-around title on Thursday.

Men and women will be back on Saturday and Sunday for individual apparatus finals.

© 2017 AFP