Simone Biles will not defend Olympic all-around gymnastics title

TOKYO

Tokyo—Only minutes into the Olympic Games team final Tuesday, Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast of her generation or any other, lost her special awareness on a vault and stumbled on the landing.

Biles, the four-time Olympic and 19-time World champion, walked to where Team USA had gathered and informed her teammates and coaches she was withdrawing from the competition, citing mental health concerns, knocking these Olympic Games of their already shaky bearings.

Biles rocked the Tokyo Olympics again Wednesday afternoon with the announcement that she will not defend her all around time Thursday and a decision that raises the likelihood that the Games and NBC will lose their biggest star before the most troubled Olympics in 40 years even hit their halfway point.

“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement. “We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”

The statement did not address whether will compete in the individual apparatus finals which start Monday. Jade Carey, Biles’ U.S. teammate, will replace her in the all around competition.

Jade Carey, who finished ninth in qualifying, will take Biles’ place in the all-around. Carey initially did not qualify because she was the third-ranking American behind Biles and Sunisa Lee. International Gymnastics Federation rules limit countries to two athletes per event in the finals.

Even before Biles’ most recent announcement the Games were still reeling from her initial withdrawal the night before.

“It’s not really about the scoring, it’s not really about the medals,” Biles said late Tuesday night “I understand some people will say something, but at the end of the day, we are who we are as people.

“I say put mental health first, because if you don’t, then you’re not going to enjoy your sport and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to. It’s OK sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself because it shows how strong of a competitor and a person that you really are, rather than just battle through it. … Hopefully I’ll get back there and compete a couple more events. We’ll see.”

The first sign of trouble came on Biles’ vault. She planned to do a Yurcenko 2 1/2, but only managed 1 1/2 rotations before stumbling on the landing. She received a 13.766 score, well before her usual marks in an event in which she is the Olympic champion and a two-time Worlds gold medalist.

“I did not choose to do a one-and-a-half,” Biles said laughing. “I tried to do a two-and-a-half, and that just was not clicking. It’s very uncharacteristic of me, and it just sucks that it happened here at the Olympic Games. With the year that it’s been, I’m really not surprised how it played out.

“So it definitely wasn’t my best work.”

Biles said she has increasingly felt pressure from being the face of these Olympic Games. She is also a survivor of sexual abuse by former U.S. Olympic and national team coach Larry Nassar has been a vocal and persistent critic of USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and FBI’s handling of the Nassar case.

“In the back gym, coming in today, it was like fighting all those demons, ‘I have to put my pride aside, I have to do it for the team,” Biles said. “At the end of the day, I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health, and not jeopardize my health and well-being. …

“I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to. I don’t know if it’s age. I’m a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I’m also not having as much fun, and I know that this Olympic Games,” she continued starting to weep, “I wanted it to be for myself.

“I was still doing it for other people, so it hurts my heart that doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people.”

More to come on this story.

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US gymnast tests positive for Covid-19 ahead of Tokyo Olympics

By Chie Kobayashi for CNN

An unnamed US female gymnast has tested positive for Covid-19, Inzai city official Takamitsu Ooura told CNN.

The teenage gymnast is staying in Inzai City in Chiba Prefecture, Japan, for pre-camp ahead of the Tokyo Olympics which start on Friday.

She tested positive on Sunday and her doctor confirmed the test result after another test Monday.

The gymnast has no symptoms and is quarantined in her hotel room as she waits for the public health center to decide on whether or not to hospitalize her.

One gymnast has been identified as a close contact of the gymnast who tested positive.

Tokyo 2020 reported Monday that there are 58 Covid-19 cases linked to the Olympic Games.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Simone Biles headlines U.S. gymnastics team after Trials victory

ST. LOUIS — Simone Biles vs. herself remains a work in progress. The gymnastics superstar vs. the world?

Same as it ever was.

Next stop, Tokyo. And one more shot at history. And gold. Perhaps lots of it.

The reigning world and Olympic champion will headline the U.S. women’s gymnastics team in Japan next month, clinching one of the automatic berths with another easy victory at the Olympic Trials on Sunday night.

Well, maybe not that easy.

The 24-year-old found herself in tears at one point during an uncharacteristically shaky – by her impeccable standards – performance. Her bars were uneven. She fell off the beam. Stepped out of bounds on floor exercise. While her two-day total of 118.098 was more than two points ahead of Olympic teammate Sunisa Lee, Lee actually posted a higher all-around score than Biles during the finals.

“I kind of got in my head today and started doubting myself,” Biles said. “And you could see that in the gymnastics. But just go home, work harder. This is just the beginning of the journey.”

Or perhaps the beginning of the end. Biles isn’t sure what awaits after the Tokyo Games. She’s been too focused on trying to become the first woman in more than a half-century to repeat as Olympic champion. The lure of history and respect for her own immense talent is why she returned after a short break following her dominant five-medal performance in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. It’s why she stuck around after the COVID-19 pandemic led officials to postpone opening ceremonies in Tokyo by a year.

Biles heads to Japan as the face of her sport, U.S. delegation and maybe even the entire Olympic movement. She’s become more than just a gymnastics star since her coronation in Rio in 2016. Her consistent excellence — her last second-place finish in a meet came more than nine years ago — combined with her charisma and her possibility-pushing routines have thrust her into the company of Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, athletes whose dominance on the world stage have made them Olympic icons.

Sports stops to watch when she does her thing. The pressure she feels — both internally and externally — is real. And it bubbled up as she gave a somewhat exhausted salute to the judges following her floor routine, grateful for the standing ovation that accompanied it but also simply relieved the big show is finally here.

“Yes, very relieved that Olympic Trials is over,” she said. “We still have a lot of work to put in once we get over there.”

Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum will join Biles on the four-woman Olympic team. MyKayla Skinner, an alternate in 2016, was awarded the “plus-1” specialist spot. Jade Carey earned a nominative spot through the World Cup circuit, meaning she will compete as an individual.

Kayla DiCello, Kara Eaker, Leanne Wong and Emma Malabuyo will serve as the alternates.

The selection committee opted to take the top four finishers at trials even though national team coordinator Tom Forster admitted a team with Skinner on it instead of McCallum could potentially put up a marginally higher score due to Skinner’s world-class vaulting.

Fractions of a point, however, likely won’t be the difference between gold and silver. If the Americans are anywhere near the top of their game, they should win their third consecutive Olympic crown by a substantial margin. That was enough for the committee to take the ranking order at the top.

“We’re so fortunate that our athletes are so strong that I don’t think it’s going to come down to tenths of a point in Tokyo,” Forster said. “It doesn’t appear to be … so as a committee, we just didn’t feel it was worth changing the integrity of the process simply for a couple of tenths.”

Lee, who will be the first Hmong American to compete at the Olympics, is surging. Hindered by an ankle injury that slowed her during the spring and left her limping at times during the national championships earlier this month, Lee may be the best gymnast on the planet not named Biles.

The 18-year-old from Minnesota is a wonder on the uneven bars, one of a handful of gymnasts on the planet who can outshine Biles on an event. Her series of intricate connections — all done with a fluidity and grace that makes it look effortless — are among the most difficult in the sport.

“I just told myself to take a deep breath and do what I normally do, because this is a time where I had to just my gymnastics do its thing,” Lee said.

Chiles admits she likely wouldn’t be going to Tokyo if not for the pandemic. She moved to Houston to train with Biles two years ago but was still in the midst of finding herself as an athlete. She’s evolved into one of the most electric — and reliable — gymnasts in a country that boasts the deepest talent pool in the world. Chiles has hit all 24 of her competition routines in 2021, and she put her face in her hands after her floor exercise to drink in the realization of a dream she worried might never come.

“It was a very emotional moment for me because I’ve been through so much with everything that’s been going on,” Chiles said. “I’m just very excited.”

With good reason. The Americans have dominated every major international competition since winning gold in London in 2012. The streak hasn’t stopped even after the retirement of former national team coordinator Martha Karolyi and the fallout of the sexual abuse scandal surrounding former national team doctor Larry Nassar.

The cloud of Nassar still lingers as the lawsuits between survivors and the organization remains in mediation.

When Biles — who herself is a Nassar survivor — is on the floor, however, the narrative shifts. And she knows it. Her presence is one of the guiding lights of the entire movement. She’s ready to put on one last show.

“I think I’ll try to live in the moment just a little bit because 2016 was such a blur,” she said. “Once we got over there, everything happened so quick. … This time we get to relax a little bit on. And kind of enjoy training and enjoy the process.”

It’s nearly complete.

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History finally at hand, Simone Biles headlines US gymnastics team

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Simone Biles vs. herself remains a work in progress. The gymnastics superstar vs. the world?

Same as it ever was.

Next stop, Tokyo. And one more shot at history. And gold. Perhaps lots of it.

The reigning world and Olympic champion will headline the U.S. women’s gymnastics team in Japan next month, clinching one of the automatic berths with another easy victory at the Olympic Trials on Sunday night.

Well, maybe not that easy.

The 24-year-old found herself in tears at one point during an uncharacteristically shaky — by her impeccable standards — performance. Her bars were uneven. She fell off the beam. Stepped out of bounds on floor exercise. While her two-day total of 118.098 was more than two points ahead of Olympic teammate Sunisa Lee, Lee actually posted a higher all-around score than Biles during the finals.

“I kind of got in my head today and started doubting myself,” Biles said. “And you could see that in the gymnastics. But just go home, work harder. This is just the beginning of the journey.”

Or perhaps the beginning of the end. Biles isn’t sure what awaits after the Tokyo Games. She’s been too focused on trying to become the first woman in more than a half-century to repeat as Olympic champion. The lure of history and respect for her own immense talent is why she returned after a short break following her dominant five-medal performance in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. It’s why she stuck around after the COVID-19 pandemic led officials to postpone opening ceremonies in Tokyo by a year.

Biles heads to Japan as the face of her sport, U.S. delegation and maybe even the entire Olympic movement. She’s become more than just a gymnastics star since her coronation in Rio in 2016. Her consistent excellence — her last second-place finish in a meet came more than nine years ago — combined with her charisma and her possibility-pushing routines have thrust her into the company of Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, athletes whose dominance on the world stage have made them Olympic icons.

Sports stops to watch when she does her thing. The pressure she feels — both internally and externally — is real. And it bubbled up as she gave a somewhat exhausted salute to the judges following her floor routine, grateful for the standing ovation that accompanied it but also simply relieved the big show is finally here.

“Yes, very relieved that Olympic Trials is over,” she said. “We still have a lot of work to put in once we get over there.”

Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum will join Biles on the four-woman Olympic team. MyKayla Skinner, an alternate in 2016, was awarded the “plus-1” specialist spot. Jade Carey earned a nominative spot through the World Cup circuit, meaning she will compete as an individual.

Kayla DiCello, Kara Eaker, Leanne Wong and Emma Malabuyo will serve as the alternates.

The selection committee opted to take the top four finishers at trials even though national team coordinator Tom Forster admitted a team with Skinner on it instead of McCallum could potentially put up a marginally higher score due to Skinner’s world-class vaulting.

Fractions of a point, however, likely won’t be the difference between gold and silver. If the Americans are anywhere near the top of their game, they should win their third consecutive Olympic crown by a substantial margin. That was enough for the committee to take the ranking order at the top.

“We’re so fortunate that our athletes are so strong that I don’t think it’s going to come down to tenths of a point in Tokyo,” Forster said. “It doesn’t appear to be … so as a committee, we just didn’t feel it was worth changing the integrity of the process simply for a couple of tenths.”

Lee, who will be the first Hmong American to compete at the Olympics, is surging. Hindered by an ankle injury that slowed her during the spring and left her limping at times during the national championships earlier this month, Lee may be the best gymnast on the planet not named Biles.

The 18-year-old from Minnesota is a wonder on the uneven bars, one of a handful of gymnasts on the planet who can outshine Biles on an event. Her series of intricate connections — all done with a fluidity and grace that makes it look effortless — are among the most difficult in the sport.

“I just told myself to take a deep breath and do what I normally do, because this is a time where I had to just my gymnastics do its thing,” Lee said.

Chiles admits she likely wouldn’t be going to Tokyo if not for the pandemic. She moved to Houston to train with Biles two years ago but was still in the midst of finding herself as an athlete. She’s evolved into one of the most electric — and reliable — gymnasts in a country that boasts the deepest talent pool in the world. Chiles has hit all 24 of her competition routines in 2021, and she put her face in her hands after her floor exercise to drink in the realization of a dream she worried might never come.

“It was a very emotional moment for me because I’ve been through so much with everything that’s been going on,” Chiles said. “I’m just very excited.”

With good reason. The Americans have dominated every major international competition since winning gold in London in 2012. The streak hasn’t stopped even after the retirement of former national team coordinator Martha Karolyi and the fallout of the sexual abuse scandal surrounding former national team doctor Larry Nassar.

The cloud of Nassar still lingers as the lawsuits between survivors and the organization remains in mediation.

When Biles — who herself is a Nassar survivor — is on the floor, however, the narrative shifts. And she knows it. Her presence is one of the guiding lights of the entire movement. She’s ready to put on one last show.

“I think I’ll try to live in the moment just a little bit because 2016 was such a blur,” she said. “Once we got over there, everything happened so quick. … This time we get to relax a little bit on. And kind of enjoy training and enjoy the process.”

It’s nearly complete.

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Seven for Simone; Biles claims another US Gymnastics title

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Simone Biles toned it down. A little anyway. And soared even higher.

The 24-year-old gymnastics superstar claimed her record seventh U.S. title Sunday night, delivering another stunning — and stunningly easy — performance that served little doubt the pressure surrounding her bid to become the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic championships in more than 50 years is only pushing her to even greater heights.

Shaking off a somewhat sloppy start Friday, at least by her impeccable standards, Biles put on a four-rotation showcase that highlighted why a GOAT emblem — a nod to her status as the Greatest Of All Time — has become a fixture on her competition leotard.

Her two-day total of 119.650 was nearly five points better than runner-up Sunisa Lee and good friend and teammate Jordan Chiles. Biles’ all-around score on Sunday of 60.100 was her highest since 2018 and served notice she is only getting better with the Tokyo Games less than seven weeks away.

It helped that she managed to stay inbounds (mostly) during her floor routine after stepping out three times on Friday. Blame in on the rush she gets when the lights are on and a crowd is in the palm of her hands. She was far more precise in finals save for one tumbling pass where one of her feet stepped over the white border.

Oh, well, something to work on for the Olympic trials later this month in St. Louis.

“It’s so crazy because in training I never go out of bounds and I never have this much power,” Biles said. “But with the adrenaline, that’s where it comes.”

While Biles’ victory was never in doubt — it rarely has been during her nearly eight-year reign atop the sport — she remains in no mood to coast.

And to think she didn’t even bother with her latest innovation, a Yurchenko double-pike vault she drilled twice at the U.S. Classic last month that caught the attention of everyone from LeBron James to Michelle Obama. Instead, she opted for two with slightly lower difficulty that she completed so casually it was hard to tell if she was in front of an arena that screamed for her at every turn or just fooling around at practice back home in Houston.

Not that it mattered. She still posted the top score on vault anyway. Just like she did on beam. Just like she did on floor. Just like she’s done everywhere she’s saluted the judges since the 2013 U.S. Championships.

The Yurchenko double-pike will return at trials and likely in Tokyo, where if she completes it during competition yet another element in the sport’s Code of Points will be named for her. Just add it to the list of what they call “#SimoneThings.”

Biles has been a lock for Tokyo from the moment she returned to training in late 2017. Chiles and Lee may also be nearing that territory. The top two all-around finishers at trials will earn an automatic spot on the Olympic team, though U.S. national team coordinator Tom Forster allowed Biles, Chiles and Lee have separated themselves from the pack.

“You can look at the scores and if the scores are anything, it looks like that,” Forster said.

Yes it does.

Lee, competing on a bad ankle that sometimes left her limping around the arena, appears to be gaining momentum. Behind a bars routine that is one of the most innovative and electric on the planet, Lee fended off a strong challenge from Chiles to hold on to silver.

“I feel like people are kind of doubting me because I’ve been injured for a little bit,” said Lee, who added she doesn’t think she needs to do much more to impress the selection committee.

Chiles continued her remarkable rise over the last six months, finishing runner-up to Biles for the second time in three weeks. The 20-year-old, who started training alongside Biles two years ago, shared an emotional moment with her good friend after drilling her bars dismount. Chiles saw coach Cecile Landi sobbing, which led her to join in, which led Biles to come over and offer a hug and a reminder of how far she’s come.

“(She) was telling me I deserved what I just did and I’m gifted and talented and I have the opportunity to make that team,” Chiles said.

The real intrigue heading into Trials might be who else can emerge from a crowded field. Emma Malabuyo finished fourth, with Leanne Wong fifth. Jade Carey, who has already secured an individual berth to the Olympics thanks to her performance on the World Cup circuit, was sixth. Forster said he expects Carey to accept her automatic spot rather than try to make the five-woman U.S. team.

The group at the trials, however, will not include Laurie Hernandez. A two-time Olympic medalist in 2016, Hernandez did not compete after injuring her left knee on a beam dismount during warm-ups on Friday.

A pair of former world champions are also likely out. Morgan Hurd, the 2017 world champion, could petition into Trials but has been struggling with both her injuries and her form didn’t finish in the top 20 on either beam or floor. Chellsie Memmel, the 2005 world champion who began a comeback last summer, saluted the crowd after ending her uneven bars routine.

The picture behind Biles and Chiles and Lee, however, remains crowded with only three weeks to go before the team is unveiled. That’s not a bad thing.

“I do think the field has gotten better,” Forster said.

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