Four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles withdrew from the women’s gymnastics team event on Tuesday after appearing to suffer an injury during the vault. USA Gymnastics spokeswoman Carol Fabrizio told USA Today that Biles will not compete in the remaining events. “Simone has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue,” she said. “She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.” The 24-year-old is considered the best gymnast of all time, but something seemed awry as she competed in Team USA’s first rotation in the finals. The AP reports: “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.”
Biles, visibly upset, talked with one of her coaches and a team doctor. She put on her gear for the next event, the uneven bars, but then left the arena. She returned with a heavily strapped foot and sat on the sidelines in a track suit. Teammate Jordan Chiles was subbed in for Biles on bars. The other members of Team USA — Chiles, Grace McCallum, and Sunisa Lee — will now have to perform in each event. The Washington Post notes that “Lee had not planned to do floor, and Chiles was not in the lineup on bars or beam.” Chiles delivered a strong bars rotation, and Lee scored a 15.400 with her difficult routine, her best score ever.
Still, losing Biles will make the Americans’ attempt to claim a third straight Olympic title far more difficult. Team USA finished second to the Russians in the qualifying round, and trailed them by 2.5 points at the halfway mark in the finals. The Americans will only be able to overcome the gap if they perform exceptionally well and the Russians stumble.