Simone Biles withdrew Tuesday from the women’s gymnastics team final at the Tokyo Summer Games, saying she needed to concentrate on her mental health.
The 24-year-old U.S. Olympian hoped to win six gold medals that would make her the greatest female Olympic champion of all time after winning 30 world and Olympic medals.
But after one uncertain vault Tuesday, Biles said she was not in the right “headspace” to compete and had to drop out from the final competition to protect herself, leaving her future participation in the Games in doubt.
Biles had been expected to participate in all six events that included a defense of her all-around crown Thursday, followed by four event finals next week.
“I do not trust myself anymore,” Biles said tearfully at a news conference. “I have to focus on my mental health.”
“We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day we’re human, too," Biles added. “So, we have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”
Biles left open the possibility of competing Thursday, noting, “It’s going to be a quick turnaround” and that “Whatever happens, happens and it’s going to be completely fine.”
Without Biles, the team representing the Russia Olympic Committee surged past the U.S., earning a score of 169.258 to win the country's first Olympic team gold in nearly 30 years.
Yet another upset occurred in women’s tennis as Japan’s Naomi Osaka, the world’s second-ranked player, suffered a shocking 6-1, 6-4 defeat to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the third round. Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam winner and a favorite to win gold for her native country, struggled during the match with 32 unforced errors.
Earlier at the Tokyo Aquatics Center, the highly anticipated contest in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke between Lilly King of the United States, who won the event in the 2016 Rio Olympics, and Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa, ended in an upset when Lydia Jacoby, King’s 17-year-old teammate, edged both women to win the gold. Schoenmaker finished in second place to win the silver medal while King ended in third, taking home the bronze medal.
Hundreds of people packed into a railroad terminal in Jacoby’s hometown of Seward, Alaska, launched into a wild celebration as they watched her come from behind in the last lap overtake Schoenmaker.
Jacoby is the first swimmer from the remote northwestern state to qualify for a Summer Olympics.
In another surprise finish, Ryan Murphy of the United States finished third in the men’s 100-meter backstroke final, as Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov of the Russian Olympic Committee, or the ROC, finished in first and second place respectively. Murphy had hoped to repeat his 2016 gold medal Rio performance, but took the bronze medal instead. His loss also ended a streak of six consecutive U.S. wins in the 100-meter backstroke dating to 1996.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Kaylee McKeown won the women’s 100-meter backstroke and set a new Olympic record of 57.47 seconds. Canada’s Kylie Masse won the silver medal while Regan Smith of the United States took the bronze medal.
And British swimmers Tom Dean and Duncan Scott won the gold and silver medals, respectively, in the men’s 200-meter freestyle final. Brazil’s Fernando Scheffer won the bronze medal.
Olympic history was also made Tuesday when Italo Ferreira of Brazil and Carissa Moore of the United States won the first-ever gold medals for men and women’s surfing.
Ferreira, the reigning World Surf League champion, overcame a broken board on his first wave on his way to his historic victory at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach in Ichinomiya town, outpointing Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi and Owen Wright of Australia, who won the silver and bronze medals respectively.
The Hawaii-born Moore, a four-time world champion and current top-ranked surfer, dominated her first two waves in the finals for a combined 14.93, easily outpointing South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag, who scored 8.46 to win the silver medal. Amuro Tsuzuki of Japan took home the bronze.
In other Olympic events Tuesday, Flora Duffy of Bermuda won the women’s triathlon in 1:55:36 (one hour, 55 minutes, 36 seconds), which included a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run. Duffy’s gold medal victory is the first for the Caribbean island nation, and the second-ever Olympic medal since boxer Clarence Hill won bronze in the 1976 Montreal Games. Georgia Taylor-Brown won the silver medal, while Katie Zaferes of the United States won bronze.
Another gold medal event is taking place later Tuesday in Tokyo when the U.S. takes on host country Japan in women’s softball in Yokohama Baseball Stadium.
The United States leads the overall medal count with 22, with China in second place with 22 and host country Japan in third with 17. The U.S., China and Japan are all tied in the gold medal count with nine, followed by five for the ROC.
Host country Japan took gold in women’s softball, defeating the U.S. team 2-0.
The United States leads the overall medal count with 25, with China in second place with 21 and host country Japan with 18.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press.