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Sunisa Lee Claims Olympic Gold And Shows U.S. Gymnastics Has More Than 1 Superstar

U.S. gymnast Sunisa Lee finishes on the uneven bars during the gymnastics women's all-around final at the Summer Olympics on Thursday.
U.S. gymnast Sunisa Lee finishes on the uneven bars during the gymnastics women's all-around final at the Summer Olympics on Thursday.

This competition was initially defined by who wasn't competing. U.S. star Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast of all time and the heavy favorite to win, pulled out to take care of her mental health.

Updated July 29, 2021 at 9:01 AM ET

TOKYO — Sunisa Lee has won Olympic gold in the marquee individual competition of women's gymnastics.

Brazil's Rebeca Andrade took silver and Angelina Melnikova, a veteran of the team from Russia, took bronze.

After her win, Lee smiled and hugged her teammate Jade Carey, who placed eighth.

This competition was initially defined by who wasn't competing. U.S. star Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast of all time and the heavy favorite to win, pulled out to take care of her mental health.

After Biles withdrew, Lee, an 18-year-old from Minnesota, became the highest-qualifying U.S. gymnast for the all-around final. Each country is allowed to send a maximum of two gymnasts to the event.

Team USA called on Carey, who had the next-highest score in the qualifiers, to step in as the second U.S. gymnast. Carey, a 21-year-old from Arizona, took an unusual path to the Olympics – she qualified in individual international competitions and wasn't part of the four-member group that competed in the team event.

U.S. gymnasts Sunisa Lee and Jade Carey fist-bump during gymnastics qualifiers on Sunday at the Tokyo Olympics.
Jamie Squire / Getty Images
U.S. gymnasts Sunisa Lee and Jade Carey fist-bump during gymnastics qualifiers on Sunday at the Tokyo Olympics.

Carey came to Tokyo as an event specialist in the vault and floor exercise.

Twenty-four gymnasts took part in the all-around final, and each will compete in the four events: uneven bars, balance beam, floor exercise and vault.

Brazil's Rebeca Andrade dominated the vault, followed by Jade Carey

Carey scored a 15.200 in a vault with a very high degree of difficulty — a tenth of a point behind Andrade.

Lee smiled after landing her vault and scored a very solid 14.600. Melnikova scored slightly higher than Lee with a 14.633. Their vaults had the same degree of difficult but Melnikova's execution score was better.

Sunisa Lee proved again that she's amazing on the uneven bars

Lee has become famous for her exceptional uneven bars routines. She proved her skills in the event once again Thursday, beating all other medal contenders with a routine with the highest degree of difficulty. She scored a 15.300.

Derwael, Lee's chief rival on the uneven bars, scored just below her with a 15.266.

Carey fell during warmups for the uneven bars, and her competition score, 13.500, was the lowest of the top group.

Russia's Vladislava Urazova pulled off the top balance beam score

Vladislava Urazova from the Russian team had the top score on the balance beam, at 14.200, but Lee delivered a strong enough routine to take the overall lead with a 13.833.

Carey fell off the four-inch-wide balance beam during her routine and ended up with a score of 11.533, dashing her hopes of getting on the podium.

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