To further emphasise the drama, if a U.S. gymnast finishes third in the world during qualifying — but also third in the United States — she is disqualified from competing. (Who can forget Jordyn Wieber, the reigning world all-around champion, missing the 2012 Olympic all-around final after finishing fourth in the world during qualification behind teammates Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas?
Simone Biles’ teammates were well aware that she would almost certainly secure one of the two American spots in the all-around and all four event finals heading into Sunday’s competition. She went ahead and did it. The only thing that gave her pause were the uneven bars, which she appeared to have overlooked at first.
In spite of the fact that the Russian Olympic Committee qualified its top two finishers for the finals, its athletes who finished fifth and sixth in the uneven bars will be unable to compete because of the two-per-country rule. That ensured that Biles, who finished 10th overall but second among U.S. athletes, would have a spot in the championship finals.
So, who secured the remaining individual spots for the U.S.?
It appeared, going into the Games, that both Suni Lee and Jordan Chiles would be battling for the second spot behind Biles, as they had done throughout the season. Chilli, a perennial contender at nationals and trials, suffered a major form break on bars and fell from the beam, finishing sixth out of the six American gymnasts on the floor exercise. Lee improved on her trials performance and will compete for the Olympic title alongside Biles, who will attempt to become the first gymnast since Vra áslavská in 1968 to win the Olympic all-around title in consecutive years.
Floor exercise is a strength for the United States women, and the second spot was up for grabs as well. However, it was individual qualifier Jade Carey who advanced to the floor final and left fans with the impression that there was more to come. Carey submitted a new skill that she intends to debut in Tokyo, a triple-twisting double layout, but she decided to save it for the final round of voting on Sunday. If she competes in the skill, it will be named after her and will receive the highest difficulty score in both men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, if she is successful.
Immediately following the selection of MyKayla Skinner as the United States’ plus-one vaulter, the biggest question on everyone’s mind was whether she would be able to outperform Carey, another vaulting powerhouse who competes in the same two vaults as Skinner, in order to have a chance at a medal. Carey finished three tenths of a point ahead of Skinner and only.017 point behind Biles, who did not perform her much-hyped Yurchenko double pike in the individual final, instead opting to save it for the team final or all-around competition. Skinner’s Olympic competition came to an end on Sunday night because she was not a member of the four-woman United States team and did not qualify for an individual event, according to the official results.
Suni Lee’s uneven bars routine may be the only thing that gets as much attention as Simone Biles’ ground-breaking vault routine. It lived up to the expectations on Sunday night. As the only athlete to achieve a score in the 15s, Lee earned the top spot in the United States for next Sunday’s final; Biles joins her as a result of the two-percentage rule.
Lee was the top American athlete for the second time on Sunday night, finishing.0134 points ahead of Biles, who took three steps out of her full-in dismount to take first place.
In total, three American athletes — Biles, Lee, and Carey — qualified to compete for individual medals at the Games in Rio de Janeiro.