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2021 Olympics: Why I pulled out of women’s gymnastics team finals — Simone Biles

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Superstar Simone Biles said she pulled out of the women’s gymnastics team finals Tuesday because she has been fighting internal demons, choosing to take a back seat because she didn’t want to ruin her team’s chance at a medal.

“I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to,” Biles said. “After the performance that I did, I didn’t want to go into the other events so I thought I would take a step back.”

She added that she had “never felt like this before.”

“Once I came out here, I was like, no the mental is not there,” she said. “I had to let the girls do it.”

Biles said she was hopeful to return for the all-around competition on Thursday after dealing with some things internally and having a mental rest day on Wednesday.

With Biles on the sidelines, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team settled for silver in the team final at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday while the Russian Olympic Committee won the team gold.

The heavy favorites and defending champions, the Americans lost Biles after the first rotation on vault when she withdrew from the event due to what USA Gymnastics described as a “medical issue.”

USA Gymnastics said in a statement that Biles would be “assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”

Russia finished with 169.528 points while the U.S. had 166.096. Britain took the bronze with 164.096.

“I’m really happy with how everybody did,” Biles told BBC. “I’m so proud of them for stepping up especially in such a last-minute situation.”

Biles had left the arena with a trainer after her vault, but returned with her grips on for the Americans’ uneven bars rotation. She then took her grips off and put on her warmup suit as an announcement was made that she was done for the day.

The 24-year-old nearly landed her vault on her knees, scoring a 13.766. Team USA ended the first rotation in second with 42.732 behind the ROC’s 43.799.

Without Biles, the other three Americans put up a solid score on uneven bars. Suni Lee had a 15.400, the highest score between the American and Russian gymnasts. Jordan Chiles rebounded from qualification day with a 14.166.

The Americans were able to cut into the lead on balance beam with three clean routines, while the ROC had to count two falls. Lee led the Americans with a 14.133 while Chiles and Grace McCallum had a 13.433 and 13.666 respectively.

Entering the final rotation — floor exercise — the Americans trailed ROC by .800.

But Team USA could not put together a clean set to complete the comeback. McCallum went out of bounds on her routine, while Chiles hopped out and sat down after one of her tumbling runs.

ROC, which was ahead by more than two points halfway through the meet before struggling on beam, did not falter on floor.

Angelina Melnikova capped off the ROC’s gold medal performance in Tokyo. She had a 13.966 to wrap things up for the ROC, five years after she won silver with Russia in Rio and watched Biles and Team USA run away with the gold medal. The ROC also won the gold medal in the men’s team competition on Monday.

“Super proud of how they stepped up to the plate tonight.” Biles said of her teammates to BBC.”This definitely made us stronger for sure.”

Biles was on the sidelines cheering her teammates as they hit their routines on bars and beam. She was seen talking to IOC president Thomas Bach after the meet, and was the first person to walk across and congratulate the ROC on their gold medal.

Biles was later seen on the podium with her teammates as they received their silver medals.

“Even though it’s so big, it’s the Olympic Games. But at the end of the day it’s like we want to walk out of here, not be dragged out here on a stretcher,” Biles said.

One of the biggest Olympic stars in the world, Biles won four gold medals and a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics. She has racked up five more all-around titles in world championships since 2013.

She entered Tokyo as the prohibitive favorite to defend her all-around gold medal, rack up some event medals and the team crown as well.

The all-around competition is Thursday with Biles scheduled to compete along with Lee. Melnikova will also compete Thursday along with teammate Vladislava Urazova.

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