Tokyo 2020 women’s finals preview: ROC bests USA in qualifying, Biles to compete for unprecedented five individual medals

By Mackenzie Brooks | July 26, 2021
Tokyo 2020 women's finals preview: ROC bests USA in qualifying, Biles to compete for unprecedented five individual medals

Opening night for women’s gymnastics at the Tokyo 2020 Games proved to be a high intensity fight for the worlds best, and for teams like USA, the pressure of the world could clearly felt on their shoulders.

Tokyo 2020: Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Team Final Qualifiers

Team USA was outscored on Sunday by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), who led Biles and company by over a full point. Even with a few hiccups, Biles still managed to come out on top as the all-around leader given her unmatched difficulty.

Joining Biles in the all-around final for the U.S. will be Suni Lee, who placed third overall.

Both Biles and Lee picked up event finals as well: Biles will compete in all four event finals, including her first Olympic uneven bars final, while Lee eyes medals on bars and beam. Specialist Jade Carey had a stellar night, beating out teammate MyKayla Skinner to qualify to the vault final and tacking on a floor final berth.

Rounding out the top three teams was China, who was behind the U.S. by a little less than four points.

The three nations, accompanied by the five additional qualifying nations, will compete for gold, silver, and bronze on Tuesday, July 27 at 7:45 p.m. JST/6:45 a.m. EDT.

USA brushes off nerves, ROC capitalizes

While the stateside women did start off on one of their strongest events, floor, their performances did not match their typical execution.

Biles brought all the power to her routine, stepping completely off the floor exercise mat when landing her third pass. She scored an unfamiliar 14.133 to contribute to the team’s total floor score of 41.165.

That score was not enough to reach the ROC, who scored a 41.633 on the event. The Russian women also capitalized on uneven bars.

The U.S. was able to stop the bleeding on vault, where it posted the highest score of the evening, even with neutral deductions for Biles, earning a 44.199. The uphill battle continued, however, on beam, where Chiles broke her consistency streak with a fall and Grace McCallum barely cracked 13.

Beam was a killer event for third place China, who outscored both USA and ROC as the team displayed complete mastery of the apparatus.

Biles’ difficulty score helps her retain all-around lead, Andrade sneaks into second

Fortunately for Biles, her lesser days still produce some of the most impressive gymnastics routines ever seen. With massive difficulty scores, she is still practically untouchable regardless her frequent trips out of bounds.

Tokyo 2020: Women’s Artistic Gymnastics All-Around Final Qualifiers

A more notable qualifying finish came from second place’s Rebeca Andrade of Brazil, headlined by a massive 15.200 on vault. The 22-year-old’s performance also includes a qualifying spot to the floor final with a 14.066.

USA’s second qualifier, Lee, punched her ticket to the final 0.233 points behind Andrade. Lee was a crucial player in holding the four-man team together, hitting 4/4 of her routines.

Carey also found herself in contention for the second all-around spot up until the last rotation. In fact, Carey led the entire competition after her hit performances on vault and floor. While her bars and beam did prove to be among some of the best of her career, her difficulty was not enough to surpass Lee in the end.

Rounding out the top five qualifiers are ROC’s Angelina Melnikova and Vladislava Urazova. The two gymnasts edged out 16-year-old rising star Viktoria Listunova by less than a point to earn the two country spots.

Melnikova, the only Olympic veteran on the ROC team, qualified for all event finals but beam.

While China is certainly in podium contention as a team, its all-around medal possibilities are dwindling. The country’s two finalists will be Tang Xijing and Lu Yufei, who finished eighth and 14th, respectively.

Carey ends Skinner’s Olympic run, Ferarri leads floor

The U.S. continues to dominate vault, individually, with Biles and Carey qualifying one-two, followed by Brazil’s Andrade.

Tokyo 2020: Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Event Final Qualifiers

Carey had a huge performance with an average score of 15.166 for both vault attempts. After Biles’ had an uncontrolled landing on her Cheng, the gap between the two qualifying averages was only 0.017.

Her teammate’s performances left MyKayla Skinner out of vault finals due to the two-per-country rule, concluding her Olympic Games.

Carey and Biles both qualified behind Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari on floor. Ferrari posted a 14.166.

Belgian star Nina Derwael led the competition on bars with a 15.366. Lee qualified in second after opting for her backup bars set and missing out on 0.200 in additional difficulty. Even opting for the backup, Lee scored a 15.200.

With the ROC sending Anastasiia Illiankova and Angelina Melnikova to bars finals in fourth and fifth place, the committee is likely to have a podium contender as well.

China’s Chenchen and Xijing will be the nation’s best chance at an event medal, as they lead the competition on beam. Biles, who had another overpowered dismount on the event, will head to finals in sixth place along with third-place qualifier Lee.

Team USA responds to its uncharacteristic performance on social