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Sunisa Lee wins gold in gymnastics all-around in Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 29: Sunisa Lee of Team United States competes on balance beam during the Women's All-Around Final on day six of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on July 29, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(TOKYO) — Sunisa Lee has won gold in the gymnastics all-around at the Tokyo Olympics.

Americans have now won gold in the women’s gymnastics all-around for the last five Olympic Games, starting with Carly Patterson in 2004, Nastia Liukin in 2008, Gabby Douglas in 2012 and Simone Biles in 2016.

Lee went into the all-arounds with a medal already in her pocket, having been part of the U.S. team that won silver Tuesday.

An event initially thought to be a showcase for the all-time great, the all-around field was blown wide open with Simone Biles’ withdrawal.

Each nation is only allowed up to two athletes to compete in the individual gymnastics event. After the qualifying event this past weekend, Biles, who came in first, and Lee were set to be the Americans in the final. Biles’ withdrawal opened up a spot for Jade Carey.

Carey came in ninth in the qualifier overall — rankings that included Biles and a third Russian Olympic Committee gymnast ahead of her.

Lee, meanwhile, came in third behind Biles and Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade. The difference between Lee’s and Andrade’s scores was 0.23 points; the difference between Carey’s and Andrade’s scores was 1.13.

The Minnesota-based Lee went into the all-arounds with a medal already in her pocket, having been part of the U.S. team that won silver Tuesday.

The first Hmong American Olympian, Lee, 18, reached victory with a strong performance in her signature event, uneven bars, and a strong vault.

Rebeca Andrade of Brazil won silver, bringing home the first gymnastics medal for a Brazilian woman. Angelina Melnikova, a Russian athlete competing under the ROC, won bronze.

An event initially thought to be a showcase for the all-time great, the all-around field was blown wide open with Simone Biles’ withdrawal.

Each nation is only allowed up to two athletes to compete in the individual gymnastics event. After the qualifying event this past weekend, Biles, who came in first, and Lee were set to be the Americans in the final. Biles’ withdrawal opened up a spot for Jade Carey.

Carey ultimately finished the event in eighth place, with a powerful performance on her stronger apparatus, vault, but a fall on beam.

Carey came in ninth in the qualifier overall — rankings that included Biles and a third Russian Olympic Committee gymnast ahead of her.

Lee is a phenom on uneven bars, while Carey is strong on vault. In the qualifier, they both scored over 15 points on those respective apparatuses, accounting for two of the five above-15 scores on any apparatus from any athlete in that event.

After the individual all-around, Lee has qualified to compete in the uneven bars and balance beams event finals, and Carey has qualified for the vault and floor event finals. Carey qualified for the Olympics as an individual, not part of the team competition.

Biles had a misstep on vault at the start of the team competition and withdrew from the rest of competition. USA Gymnastics announced her withdrawal from the all-around event on Wednesday.

“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health,” USAG said in a statement.

The organization added that Biles “will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals.”

She was in the stands with the rest of the Team USA gymnasts cheering Lee and Carey on Thursday.

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