Simone Biles has pulled out of the women's gymnastic team final for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics in a surprise blow to the United States' dreams of winning its third consecutive gold medal amid a tough battle with Russia. Biles withdrew from the final early Tuesday night after a difficult showing on the vault, her first event.
"Simone has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue," USA Gymnastics said in a statement, according to NBC News. "She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions." Biles coach Cecile Canqueteau-Landi added in another statement, "Physically, she's fine, but she's done for tonight."
Biles, who is widely regarded as the best gymnast in the world, is also the reigning Olympic all-around champion and five-time medalist. It was clear something wasn't quite right, however, when she exited the floor with the team's medical trainer following her vault, in which she bailed on her planned Amanar vault for an easier 1.5 twist, earning a 13.766 score — the lowest vault score of her Olympics career.
"I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times," Biles wrote Monday on Instagram after the prelims. "I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn't affect me but damn sometimes it's hard hahaha! The olympics is no joke! BUT I'm happy my family was able to be with me virtually ... they mean the world to me!"
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Reserve Jordan Chiles has replaced Biles in the team final and will compete alongside teammates Suni Lee and Grace McCallum in an attempt to come back from the trailing position behind the Russians. Biles has spoken out about her physical challenges coming into the summer Olympics, explaining in a May episode of her Facebook Watch series, Simone vs. Herself, that she had landed short on a triple-double during training that month, which exacerbated an existing injury.
"So 2019 after Worlds I landed completely the wrong way on floor and partially tore a ligament in my foot," she said. "And then maybe two, three weeks ago, I landed short on a triple-double and I was still kind of sideways coming in and I think I re-irritated those ligaments." She continued that she and her medical team were dealing with "a lot of fluid built up," noting, "There's nothing we can do at this point. We don't have time for rest, we don't have time for shots and all of that stuff — so tape it is."