Column: Simone Biles will not compete in Olympic all-around gymnastics final

Simone Biles walks alone after the women's team final at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Simone Biles, who withdrew from the women’s gymnastics team competition Tuesday to focus on mental health issues that dented her confidence in her ability to perform the difficult moves that have defined her brilliant career, will not compete in the women’s all-around event final Thursday.

USA Gymnastics, the sport’s national governing body, announced Biles’ withdrawal from the all-around event in a statement released mid-afternoon Wednesday in Tokyo. Biles won the all-around gold medal at Rio in 2016 and had been favored to become the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic all-around championships since Vera Caslavska in 1968.

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“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health,” the statement read. “Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals. Jade Carey, who had the ninth-highest score in qualifications, will participate in her place in the all-around.

“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.”

Biles, 24, won four gold medals and one bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Games. Since then, she added increasingly difficult moves to her routines in an effort to push herself to greater heights, though she didn’t need the increased point totals to win.


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But Biles wasn’t as sharp as usual at the Olympic trials last month and struggled in practices here. On Tuesday, during the team competition, she had trouble performing a relatively simple vault, nearly sitting on the landing. After that, she scratched from the rest of the event. The U.S. women finished second to the Russian Olympic Committee.

Biles qualified for the finals on all four apparatus — floor exercise, vault, balance beam and uneven bars.

“After the performance that I did I didn’t want to go into any of the other events second guessing myself, " Biles said of the faulty vault, “so I thought it would be better if I took a step back and let these girls go out there and do the job and they did just that.”

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On Tuesday, Biles expressed uncertainty about whether she would compete again in Tokyo.

“Therapy has helped a lot as well as medicine and I feel that has been going really well,” she said. “But then whenever you get in a high-stress situation you freak out and you don’t really know how to handle all of those emotions, especially being at the Olympic Games. Yes, we have tons of resources available to us but I’m one to tough it out until the last minute. Obviously it didn’t work that way. Going forward we’ll just go back to the tactics that have always worked, so we’ll see.”

U.S. gymnast Simone Biles was scratched from the team competition and the U.S. went on to finish second behind the Russian Olympic Committee team.