Skip to main content

Without Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee And Jade Carey Take The...

Jamie Squire


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.

With two of the four events completed, Rebeca Andrade from Brazil is leading, followed by U.S. gymnast Sunisa Lee and Angelina Melnikova from Russia. They're within half a point of each other.

This competition 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, 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.

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 Thursday also include Belgium's Nina Derwael, Andrade, and Vladislava Urazova and Melnikova from Russia.

Brazil's Rebeca Andrade dominated the vault, followed by Jade 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.

Sunisa Lee proves again that she's amazing on the uneven bars

Lee has become famous for her exceptional uneven bars routines. She proved her skills in the event once again Thursday, beating all other medal contenders with a routine with the highest degree of difficulty. She scored a 15.300.

Derwael, Lee's chief rival on the uneven bars, scored just below her with a 15.266.

Carey fell during warmups for the uneven bars, and her competition score, 13.500, was the lowest of the top group.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.