USA women’s gymnastics team takes silver in team final after Simone Biles withdraws at Tokyo Olympics

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TOKYO — No reign lasts forever and the end, when it finally comes, is always a shock.

For American women to end up here this way, however, was simply unfathomable.

Simone Biles withdrew from team competition after struggling on vault, ending any chance for the Americans to win their third consecutive Olympic title. They finished with silver, the first time since the 2010 world championships that the Americans did not win the team title at the world championships or the Olympics.

Russia won the gold medal, its first since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

“This Olympics, I wanted it to be for me,” said Biles, a four-time gold medalist in Rio.

“I arrived and felt like I was still doing it for other people,” she said, holding back tears. “It just hurts my heart that doing what I love has somehow been taken away from me to please others.”

There were hints after qualifying that the Americans might be in trouble. They made six major errors, including three from Biles, and finished more than a point behind the Russians, a team that has improved significantly since 2019, when they finished nearly six points behind the Americans at the U.S. championships. world.

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But there are problems, and then there is this.

During warmups for the jump, America’s premier women’s event, Biles bailed out on an Amanar. The 2½ twist somersault is one of the most difficult jumps to perform, but it comes so naturally to Biles that she could probably do it five minutes after getting out of bed.

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The United States celebrate winning the silver medal in the women’s team final during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics at Ariake Gymnastics Center.

When it came time for her to compete, she leapt into the air, doing only 1½ twists.

“I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health and not compromise my health and well-being,” Biles said. “That’s why I decided to take a step back.”

Cameras captured her teammates’ mouths opening in shock, knowing that not only was something wrong with Biles, but their chances of winning the gold medal were likely lost.

Teams must count all three scores from each event, and Biles got a 13.766. Instead of increasing the score of the Russians, the Americans have already found themselves behind by one point.

Biles looked like she was fighting back tears as she stepped off the podium, and coach Cécile Landi immediately went to put an arm around her shoulder. Biles was seen talking with team doctor Marcia Faustin for several minutes before leaving the competition field.

Biles came back as the Americans warmed up for the uneven bars, exchanging hugs with her teammates before removing her holds – a clear sign that she was not going to do bars – and putting on her warm-up pants. The rest of Team USA – Jordan Chiles, Suni Lee and Grace McCallum – said they fully support his stepping back, not wanting Biles to hurt himself physically.

Biles stayed on the ground to cheer on her teammates, and if the rest of the Americans were baffled by the daunting task they faced, they didn’t show it.

Chiles, who took Biles’ spot on bars and beam, was dancing to floor music by Chinese Lu Yufei, Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and Biles soon joined them. The American women were screaming and jumping up and down like they were at an NCAA meet rather than the Olympics, and they were practically strutting around as they moved from event to event.

But it’s not confidence that decides gold medals, it’s scores, and America’s women just didn’t have enough to get out of their first hole. They entered the final event, the floor exercise, trailing by eight tenths, but to hope to catch up with the Russians they needed perfect performances from all three gymnasts.

They did not understand them. McCallum went out of bounds on his second tumbling pass. Chiles’ feet slipped under her when landing one of her passes, and she landed on her back.

Their hopes for gold were realized. Likewise, the long American reign.

“We’re just gonna take this and cherish this forever,” Biles said, clutching the silver medal. “This medal is theirs.” I did not do anything.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: US women win silver in Olympic gymnastics after Biles ‘medical issue’

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