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July 28, 2021

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Biles fails in gold bid, Osaka out

Simone Biles came into the Olympics as perhaps the biggest star of the Games. Naomi Osaka was such a big headline act that she was given the honor to light the Olympic flame in her native country.

In a matter of just hours yesterday, Osaka was knocked out early from the Olympic tennis tournament and Biles pulled out of the gymnastics team competition when she realized following a shaky vault she wasn’t in the right headspace to compete.

“I didn’t want to go into any of the other events second-guessing myself,” Biles said. “So I thought it would be better if I took a step back and let these girls go out there and do their job.”

Biles is scheduled to defend her Olympic title in the all-around final tomorrow. The American also qualified for all four event finals. Whether she will get that opportunity remains to be seen.

The team representing the Russia Olympic Committee surged past the short-handed United States to the top of the podium, posting a score of 169.258 to win the country’s first Olympic team gold in nearly 30 years.

The Americans hung on for silver and Great Britain won bronze.

The team silver medal means Biles can no longer win six golds in Tokyo which, added to her haul of four from Rio, would have confirmed her status as the greatest gymnast of all time.

USA Gymnastics said Biles had withdrawn because of a “medical issue”, and would be assessed daily.

Russian great Larisa Latynina won nine gymnastic Olympic golds in the 1950s and ‘60s. Only Michael Phelps, with his 23 swimming golds, has won more.

Osaka, who was born in Japan and grew up in the US, struggled with her usually reliable groundstrokes and lost 1-6, 4-6 in the third round to former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.

“I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this,” Osaka said. “I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in the Olympics before and for the first year (it) was a bit much. I think I’m glad with how I played, with taking that break that I had.”

Osaka, who lit the Olympic cauldron in Friday’s opening ceremony, won her opening two matches in straight sets following a two-month mental-health break.




 

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