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August 4, 2021

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Guan tops as Biles snares bronze

China’s Guan Chenchen and Tang Xijing clinched gold and silver medals, respectively, in the women’s balance beam at the Tokyo Olympics yesterday.

The event saw the return of American Simone Biles.

Guan, 16, a balance beam specialist, topped the competition with 14.633 points, trailed by Tang on 14.233 points.

She finished first with 14.933 in qualification and was the last to compete on the apparatus in the final. With a 6.600-difficulty routine, she secured a third gymnastics gold for China.

“I actually never expected that I would get a medal. My coach said, ‘this is your first time in the Olympics and no one knows you so just go in and do your best’,” Guan said afterwards.

“I actually started gymnastics much later than other people so I think this is a good result for me. Even though this competition is very tiring, I’m very happy with the result.”

Tang, 18, received an unparalleled 8.233 execution score for her routine, settling for silver.

Biles made a fearless return to competition, capping a tumultuous Tokyo Games with a bronze medal with 14.000 points and then using the Olympic stage to remind everyone that athletes are human beings.

Though the final gold of the women’s artistic gymnastics program went to Guan it was Biles who grabbed the spotlight for her courageous comeback.

“I was proud of myself just to go out there after what I’ve been through,” said Biles, who arrived in Tokyo having already won four golds and a bronze in Rio five years ago. “This one is definitely sweeter. I’ll treasure this one a lot more after everything I have been through.”

While still dealing with the traumatic events of the past week, Biles did not rule out returning to the Olympics in three years for the 2024 Paris Games.

“I have to process this Olympics before I think about Paris,” said Biles, who owns a combined 32 Olympic and world championship medals. “Right now I’m going to focus on myself a little bit more often rather than push stuff under the rug.”

A three-time beam world champion, Biles might have finished third but her mere presence was considered a victory after she dropped out of last Tuesday’s team competition — where she failed to complete the planned number of twists in her vault — citing mental health issues.

The 24-year-old came to Tokyo eyeing a record haul of six golds, which would have made her the most successful female Olympian of all-time across any sport, but instead suffered a crisis of confidence that led to her withdrawing from the all-around, vault, asymmetric bars and floor exercise finals.

Earlier, Zou Jingyuan snatched gold in the men’s parallel bars.

Zou, 23, won with 16.233 points, followed by German Lukas Dauser (15.700) and Turkey’s Ferhat Arican (15.633).

You Hao, the silver medalist in the rings, finished fourth.


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