Simone Biles withdrew from the women’s gymnastics team finals at the Olympics.
The reigning champion, considered to be the greatest gymnast of all time, landed a vault in the Americans’ first rotation then huddled with a team trainer. She exited the competition floor with a team doctor and returned several minutes later with her right leg wrapped.
She took her grips off — which she was wearing ahead of her next rotation, the bars — then hugged teammates Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee and Jordan Chiles before putting on a jacket and sweatpants.
USA Gymnastics told USA Today that the reason for Biles’s withdrawal was a due to a medical issue. Biles remained on the floor with her team after withdrawing as the team lost out on gold for the first time since 2008.
It’s unclear if she’ll be able to compete in the women’s all around on Thursday. USA Gymnastics said she will be “assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”
On NBC’s broadcast, former US team gymnast Laurie Hernandez said Biles’s coaches mentioned “she was doing OK” and cautioned against speculation about why Biles withdrew.
The U.S. began finals on vault, with Biles going last. She was supposed to do an “Amanar,” a vault that begins with a roundoff back handspring onto the table followed by 2 1/2 twists. She seemed to change her mind in mid-air, doing just 1 1/2 twist instead. She huddled with the trainer after dismounting.
Biles’s exit made it much harder for the US to win gold. In the team finals, three scores count, but the team can decide which of its four gymnasts competes on each apparatus (beam, bars, vault, and floor).
A Team USA coach said that Simone Biles' exit from the gymnastics team event "is not injury related." Coach said it is a "mental issue she is having," per NBC broadcast.
— Al Butler (@ALaboutSports) July 27, 2021
When Biles withdrew, teammates Chiles, McCallum, and Lee had to jump on extra apparatuses to finish out the rotations.
Chiles replaced Biles on uneven bars and balance beam.
The Russians beat the Americans in qualifying — a rare non-first finish for what’s considered the team to beat — and remained the largest competition.
Biles finished on top of the all-around qualifying on Sunday, but suffered some rare missteps. She stepped all the way off the mat following a tumbling pass on her floor exercise, then basically did the same on vault. She responded with a solid set on uneven bars, but a spectacular beam routine ended with her taking three major steps backward following her dismount.
After the competition, Biles wrote on Instagram: “It wasn’t an easy day or my best, but I got through it. I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times.”
That’s not an understatement — Biles is the unquestioned star of the Tokyo Games and the face of Team USA.
She is scheduled to defend her Olympic title in the all-around final on Thursday. She also qualified for all four event finals later in the Games.
Whether she will get that opportunity remains to be seen.
Biles won five medals in Rio de Janeiro five years ago and earned the right to win as many as six in Tokyo after making five finals.