USA’s Suni Lee wins gold in the women’s individual all-around gymnastics final

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Team USA’s Suni Lee won gold Thursday in the women’s individual all-around gymnastics final, defending the title despite the absence of the team’s reigning champion, Simone Biles.

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An American has now won each of the last five Olympic titles.

Biles‘ decision to withdraw from the event in order to focus on her mental health loomed over Tokyo’s Ariake Gymnastics Center Thursday as the Olympics continued with one of its leading stars on the sidelines.

Lee, 18, was joined in the final by Jade Carey, who took Biles’ place, and came in 8th place Thursday.

Lee had the third highest all-around score during the qualifying round behind Biles and Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade. Carey had the ninth highest score.

But while the 24-year-old superstar’s absence was felt on the floor of the arena, her decision to step back from competing Tuesday to focus on her emotional well-being continued to make an impact across the sports world.

Biles said on Twitter that “the outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before.”

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A four-time Olympic gold medalist, Biles shocked the Olympic world Tuesday when she suddenly withdrew during the team gymnastics final.

She said the emotional toll of the Tokyo Games, not a physical injury, prompted her exit.

The decision came after Biles carried out an uncharacteristically poor vault that saw her bail out of her Amanar before taking a stumble upon landing.

Her team went on to win the silver medal, with Biles cheering her teammates on from the sidelines and later championing them in an Instagram post for having “stepped up when I couldn’t.”

Russian athletes came away with the gold medal in the event, while the U.K. took bronze.

On Wednesday, USA Gymnastics, the National Governing Body for the sport in the U.S., announced in a statement that Biles would be sitting out again at Thursday’s event “in order to focus on her mental health.”

She will “continue to be evaluated daily” to determine whether or not she should participate in next week’s individual event finals, it said.

“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many,” the organization said.

Simone Biles of Team United States looks on with her teammates during the women’s team final at the Tokyo Olympics on July 27, 2021.Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

Speaking about her decision to take a step back from competing, Biles told Hoda Kotb on NBC’s “TODAY” show on Tuesday that while she might be fine physically, “emotionally, it varies on the time and moment. Coming to the Olympics and being head star isn’t an easy feat.”

She further told NBC’s Andrea Joyce that the hurdles she is facing are “more mental, and we’re just dealing with a couple of things internally.”

But “the girls did well. They stepped up when they needed to,” she said of her team.

In a meeting with NBC News reporters, two of Biles’ teammates, Grace McCallum and Jordan Chiles, voiced support for their teammate and said they’re soldiering on.

“It’s been a crazy, crazy ride,” said Chiles, noting that they’ve had to train through a pandemic and they’re competing at venues where there’s nobody cheering them on because there is a state of emergency in Tokyo and no fans are allowed in the stands.





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