TOKYO (AP) — Simone Biles came to Tokyo as the star of the U.S. Olympic movement and perhaps the games themselves.
It all came to a stunning halt in the women’s gymnastics final on Tuesday night. A wonky vault to start the competition left her huddling with the U.S. team doctor before heading backstage for a few moments.
When she re-emerged, she hugged her teammates, took off her bar grips and put on a sweatsuit while dealing with what USA Gymnastics described as a “medical issue.”
Her day was over. A short time later, despite a valiant effort from Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee and Jordan Chiles, so was the U.S.’s long run atop the sport.
“You guys go out there and do what you’re trained to do. It is going to be fine, OK?” Biles told teammates after she withdrew. “I’m sorry. I love you guys, but you’re going to be just fine.
“You guys have trained your whole entire life for this. It’s fine. I’ve been to an Olympics. I’ll be fine. This is your first. You go out there and kick a–, OK?”
The team representing the Russian Olympic Committee surged past the U.S. to gold, posting a score of 169.528 to capture the country’s first Olympic title since Barcelona in 1992.
“Physically, I feel good,” Biles told Hoda Kotb of TODAY. “Emotionally it varies on the time and moment. Coming to the Olympics and being head star isn’t an easy feat.”
The Americans drew within eight-tenths of a point through three rotations even with Biles serving as head cheerleader. ROC, however, never wavered on floor. And they erupted when 21-year-old Angelina Melnikova’s floor exercise score assured them of the top spot on the podium.
The victory came a day after ROC men’s team edged Japan for the top spot in the men’s final.
Great Britain edged Italy for bronze.
The Russian athletes collapsed in joy after Angelina Melnikova’s floor routine score assured them of the top spot.
The Americans hung in there for silver even without Biles.