When Simone Biles withdrew from the gymnastics team event at the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games on July 27, her teammates and coaches scrambled to fill in for her on the spot, since Biles made the sudden decision after the competition had started. Sunisa Lee and Jordan Chiles stepped in and both pulled off impressive routines with little notice — and no warm up time — to help the US women earn silver.
Biles announced a day later that she is also withdrawing from the all-around event, the marquee competition for women’s gymnastics. Biles is the reigning Olympic all-around champion, but won’t be defending her title after admitting to struggling mentally with the pressures of competing in Tokyo.
Who will replace her? It’s not just a matter of swapping in a teammate. Biles was the top qualifier, and only the gymnasts with the top 24 scores from the qualifying round are eligible for the all-around. In addition, in order to give as many countries as possible a chance to participate, only two gymnasts per country can compete. For the U.S., that meant Biles and Sunisa Lee, who qualified with the third highest score.
Jade Carey, one of the additional members of the U.S. squad who was not part of the four-woman team, qualified ninth, which means she will replace Biles in the all-around.
Carey took advantage of a new Olympic qualifying system in which she participated in the Apparatus World Cup Series over the last three years, and her scores assured her of an individual invitation to the Olympic squad; with that individual spot, however, she could not compete in the team event. Strong on vault and floor, Carey, an Arizona native who trains with her father Brian, is a consistent competitor.
Biles also qualified for all four event finals, and said she will take each day at a time before deciding whether she will compete in those events. Only the top eight qualifiers compete in each event final, with a maximum of two per country. If she does decide to withdraw from those as well, here’s who will replace her on each apparatus.
Vault: MyKayla Skinner (Team USA)
MyKayla Skinner, like Carey, is an individual member of the women’s gymnastics squad, and could not compete in the team event. She did compete on all apparatus for the all-around, however, which determines in which event finals she can participate. A strong vaulter, her scores unfortunately did not qualify her for any of the event finals because two other teammates had higher scores. If Biles does not compete on vault, however, Skinner will step in since she finished fourth in the qualification round, and the top eight gymnasts are eligible.
Floor: Jennifer Gadirova (Team Great Britain)
One of Biles’ teammates cannot replace her on floor, since none placed higher than the reserve athlete, Jennifer Gadirova of Great Britain, who will have a chance to compete on floor if Biles withdraws.
Uneven bars: Melanie de Jesus (France)
Same goes for this event; the reserve athlete is Melanie de Jesus dos Santos of France, because the Team USA athlete with the next highest score after Biles and Lee is Jade Carey, but she finished 10th.
Beam: Urara Ashikawa (Japan)
Japan’s Urara Ashikawa would step in on this event as the reserve athlete, also because no U.S. gymnast finished higher than Ashikawa. Skinner, the next highest scoring U.S. gymnast, finished 27th.
Correction, August 2
The original version of this story misstated MyKayla Skinner’s results in the vault qualifications. She finished fourth, not seventh.
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