TOKYO (AP) – Reigning Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles is out of the team finals with what USA Gymnastics officials are calling a “medical issue.”
It all came to a stunning halt in the women’s gymnastics final on Tuesday night. A wonky vault to start the competition left the 24-year-old huddling with the U.S. team doctor before heading backstage for a few moments.
When she re-emerged, she hugged her teammates, took off her bar grips and put on a sweatsuit.
Her day was over. A short time later, despite a valiant effort from Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee and Jordan Chiles, so was the U.S.’s long run atop the sport. The Russian team took home the gold, posting a score of 169.528, while the U.S. won silver.
Biles arrived in Tokyo as the unquestioned star of the Games but struggled, at least by her high standards, during qualifying.
She and the U.S. women’s gymnastics team were off to a rocky start in the team finals.
Biles bailed on her planned Amanar vault, opting for an easier one in mid-air and then struggling with the landing. The rare miscue by the Olympic champion allowed the gymnasts from Russia to open up a one-point lead after the first rotation.
Vault has long been a strong suit for the U.S. and Biles is the defending Olympic and world champion in the event. Yet the Russian athletes have made up considerable ground since the 2019 world championships. They have an opportunity to win their first Olympic gold since the Unified Team topped the podium in Barcelona in 1992.