After Simone Biles’s Stunning Withdrawal, Russia Wins Gold Medal
In the biggest upheaval for the United States at the Tokyo Games, Simone Biles withdrew from the team gymnastics competition after its start on Tuesday, giving the Russian team a path to the gold medal and ending to the American domination of the event for more than a decade.
Team USA star Biles withdrew from the event “due to a medical problem,” according to a statement from USA Gymnastics, the sport’s national governing body.
“She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions,” the statement said.
Russia finished with an aggregate score of 169.528, more than 3 points ahead of the silver medalist United States at 166.096. Great Britain won the bronze medal with a score of 164.096.
The Russian team had surprised the Americans in qualifying on Sunday, further increasing the pressure for the American team to maintain their undisputed success in the sport. The Americans were aware of their impressive winning streak, which included Biles and the team known as “The Final Five” at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games and Gabby Douglas and “The Fierce Five” at the London 2012 Games.
The last time the United States lost a team final at the Olympics or the world championships was in 2010, against Russia. Since then, the United States has been far ahead of the world in sport, winning the World Championships and the Olympics by at least 4 points, a wide margin in a sport where competitors are often divided by less than one point. . At the Rio Games, the Americans crushed the Russians by more than 8 points.
The US team in Tokyo did what they could to preserve their legacy of success. But without Biles, the greatest gymnast in history, the Americans simply couldn’t keep up with the Russians. They seemed to have a chance of winning gold before the final test, the floor exercise, however, and were only eight-tenths behind the first. A premature fall from Jordan Chiles, who landed on his back during one of his tumbling passes, gave Chiles a score of just 11.7 points, putting the Russians firmly in the lead, for good.
A day after his men’s team won the Olympic gold medal, the women of the Russian team performed their difficult routines with precision and grace, and the American team just couldn’t keep up. It didn’t help the Americans’ confidence that they entered the final trying to bounce back from a second place finish to Russia in qualifying.
In qualifying on Sunday, Biles and some of his teammates made unusual mistakes because they were nervous. Biles tripped on his descent from the balance beam, taking one big step and several small ones back. During the floor exercise, she came out so far out of bounds that she slipped along the edge of the tilted and raised competition surface. On the jump, she got off the mat after landing.
These mistakes, along with those of her teammates, were erased for Tuesday’s final. Yet even though the Americans took a deep breath and tried to regain their composure, it was not enough to put the United States back on top.
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