TOKYO – American gymnast Simone Biles' decision to withdraw from two marquee Olympic competitions to focus on her mental well-being changes the landscape somewhat dramatically for the U.S. gymnastics team in coming days. Here's a look at what that might mean, with the understanding that the situation is still fluid.
WHAT HAPPENED: After pulling out of the women's team finals after the vault rotation on Tuesday night, saying she felt she wasn't in the right “headspace," Biles on Wednesday withdrew from Thursday’s all-around competition to focus on her mental well-being.
WHO'LL TAKE BILES' PLACE: 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.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE ALL-AROUND: The decision opens the door wide open for the all-around, a title that Biles was expected to defend after winning in 2016 at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Rebeca Andrade of Brazil finished second to Biles during qualifying, followed by Lee and Russians Angelina Melnikova and Vladislava Urazova. The four were separated by three-tenths of a point on Sunday.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR BILES: USA Gymnastics said Biles will be evaluated daily before deciding if she will participate in next week’s individual events. Biles qualified for the finals on all four apparatuses, something she didn’t even do during her five-medal haul in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
HOW JADE CAREY GOT HERE: Carey now finds herself in the final, capping a remarkable journey for the 21-year-old from Phoenix. She spent two years traveling the globe in an effort to pile up enough points on the World Cup circuit to earn an individual nominative spot, meaning she would be in the Olympics but technically not be part of the four-woman U.S. team. Carey posted the second-best score on vault and the third-best on floor during qualifying, earning trips to the event finals in the process. Now she finds herself competing for an all-around medal while replacing the athlete considered the greatest of all-time in the sport.
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