Without Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee And Jade Carey Take The Mat At The Tokyo Olympics

Updated July 29, 2021 at 7:18 AM ET

TOKYO — The competition to determine the top individual women’s gymnast has kicked off at the Tokyo Games.

This event has been defined by who isn’t competing. U.S. star Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast of all time and the heavy favorite to win, pulled out to take care of her mental health.

After Biles withdrew, Sunisa Lee, an 18-year-old from Minnesota, became the highest-qualifying U.S. gymnast for the all-around final. Each country is allowed to send a maximum of two gymnasts to the event.

Team USA called on Jade Carey, who had the next-highest score in the qualifiers, to step in as the second U.S. gymnast. Carey, a 21-year-old from Arizona, took an unusual path to the Olympics – she qualified in individual international competitions and wasn’t part of the four-member group that competed in the team event.

Lee has become famous for her exceptional uneven bars routines. In the team final, she tied with Belgium’s Nina Derwael for the top score on that apparatus.

Carey came to Tokyo as an event specialist in the vault and floor exercise. On the floor today, she may try a tumbling pass – a triple-twisting double layout — that no woman has ever landed in competition. It’s so hard to pull off that the international gymnastics governing body would need to create a new difficulty category.

Twenty-four gymnasts are taking part in the all-around final, and each will compete in the four events: uneven bars, balance beam, floor exercise and vault.

Medal contenders today also include Derwael, Rebeca Andrade from Brazil, and Vladislava Urazova and Angelina Melnikova from Russia.

Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade dominated the vault, followed by Carey

Carey scored a 15.200 in a vault with a very high degree of difficulty — a tenth of a point behind Andrade.

Lee smiled after landing her vault and scored a very solid 14.600. Melnikova, a veteran of the Russian team, scored slightly higher than Lee with a 14.633. Their vaults had the same degree of difficult but Melnikova’s execution score was better.

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