Simone Biles and Co. Gets Off to Shaky start as Team USA Fail to Win Qualifying Round – for First Time Since 2010, Coming Second Behind Russia

Biles crosses her arms and looks dejected while waiting for her score after performing on the balance beam during the women’s artistic gymnastic qualifications

Simone Biles had a rare off day on Sunday as Team USA failed to win a qualifying round for the first time since 2010 and finished second behind Russia.

Biles was left long faced after a shaky performance which saw her penalised on both floor and vault as her team finished on 170.526, behind their rivals on 171.629.

Yet she remains on track to win six Olympic golds after successfully qualifying across all individual and team competitions, despite taking a backwards tumble after a botched dismount on the uneven bars.

Team USA’s medal haul now stands at 10 after the swimmers bagged six in their best ever first day in an Olympic finals, putting them third in the medals table behind China and Japan.

Golds went to sharpshooter Will Shaner, fencer Lee Kiefer and Anastasija Zolotic in taekwondo. Meanwhile, Chase Kalisz triumphed in the men’s 400-meter individual medley.

Yet the U.S. men’s basketball team suffered a shock 83-76 defeat at the hands of France on Sunday, losing at the Olympics for the first time since 2004 and for just the sixth time in the history of the tournament.

Tom Foster, the women’s gymnastic team’s high performance team co-ordinator said of his squad’s performance: ‘We had great performances today and some not so great ones.

‘The errors we made were, I think, mental as the girls have been training incredibly well.

‘We have some time to work on things before finals.’

Asked if the team been too sure of beating all challengers with Biles in the team, he replied: I don’t think it was over confidence – no.

‘It will all work out.

‘All the athletes want to win medals. Nobody comes here and doesn’t want to win. So of course we want to win.

‘It is what it is. Sometimes just like in any other sport, great athletes drop the ball… it happens.

‘This was not the finals, this was getting into the finals so this might be a great awakening for us and we will take advantage of it.’

Already regarded as one of the sport’s all-time greats, Biles arrived in Tokyo targeting a record haul, including beating the mark of five gold medals at a single Olympics by a woman gymnast.

The 24-year-old was expected to launch an all-out assault on the podium and record books in Tokyo.

Biles will have a packed program in Tokyo leading the U.S. defence of their team title and her all-around crown while qualifying for the finals in the balance beam, asymmetric bars, vault and floor exercise.

With no spectators allowed inside the Ariake Gymnastics Centre due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was very much a business-like effort by Biles and her American team mates.

However, it was far from business as usual with a resurgent Russian team firing a warning shot.

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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Rory Tingle

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