We’re used to perfection from Simone Biles but the American superstar sparked concerns on Tuesday night when her Olympics campaign took a wrong turn.
At the women’s team gymnastics final, the USA started on the vault – the place Biles has gone where nobody ever has before with the incredible Yurchenko double pike – but the four-time gold medallist baulked on her first attempt.
The bizarre incident meant she only completed 1.5 rotations instead of 2.5 and failed to stick the landing. Biles was clearly irked and grimaced on her way back the side, earning a 13.766 — what was the lowest score of all six American and ROC (Russian) competitors.
Nobody could quite believe what they’d seen from the undisputed queen of gymnastics, who has done things in the sport nobody thought possible.
American Olympics reporter Callie Caplan said Biles “looked near tears as she walked off the podium”.
“Simone Biles got lost in the air during her last warm-up vault and bailed out of the Amanar early. She just did the same during competition, completing 1.5 twists instead of 2.5,” Caplan tweeted.
Gymnastics reporter Rebecca Schuman tweeted: “Simone needed a 15+ on vault. There is absolutely no way the US, competing as badly as they’ve been here, can make that up. Absolutely no way. JESUS F***ING CHRIST, SIMONE CHOKED.”
Shelia O’Connor added: “Did…did Simone Biles just bail out of her vault?” with a shocked hands-on-face emoji.
US sports columnist Nancy Armour said: “OMG. Simone bailed out of the Amanar, does a 1.5. Nearly lands it on her knees. And looks as if she’s about to cry as she comes off the podium, Cecile immediately goes and puts arm around her.”
The plot thickened when Biles soon walked off the competition floor with a team trainer, sparking speculation she’d suffered an injury.
Her teammates walked over to the uneven bars and were forced to compete with her.
Jordan Chiles was supposed to sit out the uneven bars but had to scramble to take part because of Biles’ absence.
Before the US moved on to the beam, it was confirmed Biles had withdrawn from the competition due to a “medical condition”.
American TV presenter Hoda Kotb said “the place was just stunned”.
Each team consists of four members and three take part on each apparatus, with one reserve. There are four apparatuses in the team event: Vault, bars, beam and floor.
Biles underscored her greatness at this year’s US Classic by becoming the first woman ever to pull off a Yurchenko double pike — a complex, gravity-defying vault that no other woman has attempted in competition.
Unfortunately for Biles, the judges weren’t as enamoured with her vault as everyone else, as they gave it a provisional scoring value of just 6.6. There have been suggestions the low score was delivered because the International Gymnastics Federation wants to protect athletes’ safety by discouraging them from attempting a move as difficult as what Biles pulled off.
Then there’s the train of thought if Biles is the only person on the planet capable of pulling off such extreme vaults, she will simply be impossible to beat if the judges deem them worthy of more points.
“I feel like now we just have to get what we get because there’s no point in putting up a fight because they’re not going to reward it,” Biles said.
“They’re too low and they even know it. But they don’t want the field to be too far apart. And that’s just something that’s on them. That’s not on me.
“They had an open-ended code of points and now they’re mad that people are too far ahead and excelling.”