The superstar athlete and her U.S. gymnastics teammates are stunning Tokyo audiences for the wrong reasons.
Superstar gymnast Simone Biles and the U.S. gymnastics team are stunning audiences in Tokyo for all the wrong reasons.
For the first time at a world championship meet or Olympic Games, the U.S. team is not at the top of the leaderboard after Biles and other team members made uncharacteristically sloppy mistakes during the qualifying round.
Simone Biles of Team United States competes on vault during Women’s Qualification on Day Two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Sunday at Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Biles, Jordan Chiles, Sunisa Lee and Grace McCallum are in second place, with a score of 170.562. Russia is in the lead by 1.067 points.
MyKayla Skinner — competing as an individual and not as part of the U.S. gymnastics team — did not qualify to move forward.
Biles and McCallum both stepped out of bounds during the round. Biles made major mistakes, flying off the floor during a tumbling pass and landing outside the mat with both feet.
Simone Biles of Team United States competes on balance beam during Women’s Qualification at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Sunday at Ariake Gymnastics Centre. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
On the vault, the superstar took a huge step off the mat as she landed. She visibly rolled her eyes after the mistake.
“I feel we did a pretty good job,” said Biles after finishing the qualifying round. “Obviously, there are little things we need to work on, so we’ll go back and practice and work on that, just so we can do our best performance at team finals because that’s what matters. We’re really striving for top three [finish].”
Chiles, her teammate and mentee, scored only a 12.866 on the bars, dragging her feet during a transition from the high to low bar. On the beam, she fell off during a series and even tumbled on a dismount. She will still compete in the team final.
“We had great performances today and some not-so-great ones, but the errors we made are mental,” Tom Forster, Team USA’s high-performance team coordinator, later told reporters. “These girls have been training incredibly well, so it’s things we have some time to work on before finals, and we’ll do it.”
Commenting about Biles’s performance and mistakes, he added, “That was a surprise. She’s been incredibly consistent, and I’m sure she feels bad, but I’m super proud of the way she trained. She’s been a great leader for us. Sometimes, just like in other sports, great athletes drop the ball in the end zone, or a quarterback throws an interception. It happens. Those steps are mental errors.”
Biles and Lee will be the two qualifiers to the all-around from Team USA due to a two-per-country rule. Biles also made the event finals in vault, floor, bars and beam. The individual all-around final is scheduled for Thursday.
Forster noted that the challenging showing and second-place qualifying against the Russian team might be “a great awakening for us, and we’ll take advantage of it.”
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