Olympic gymnastics updates: MyKayla Skinner wins silver, Suni Lee earns bronze in event finals

On Sunday, newly crowned women’s gymnastics all-around champ Suni Lee competed in the uneven bars final, adding a bronze medal to her Tokyo Olympics hardware collection.

Simone Biles announced on Saturday that she had withdrawn from both the vault and bars finals on Sunday (then later, that she was pulling out of the floor exercise on Monday as well), leaving some of the individual event final medals wide open. On Sunday, American MyKayla Skinner replaced Biles on vault and made the most of the opportunity, winning silver in an epic battle for the podium. On the men’s side, the United States’ Yul Moldauer competed on floor and Alec Yoder on pommel horse, both finishing in sixth.

It all started at 4 a.m. ET — and we’ve got all the action you might have missed below.

Women’s uneven bars: Derwael wins gold; Lee hangs on for bronze

Two-time world champion Nina Derwael, the top qualifier into finals, performed her highly difficult, jam-packed routine well to win the event easily. She earned a 15.200 — and her country’s first Olympic gymnastics gold medal in history. The ROC team’s Anastasiia Iliankova hit her routine cleanly for the silver medal — and American Suni Lee held on for bronze.

Olympic all-around gold medalist Lee was up first in the line-up and was a little off from the start, missing the connections on her release moves in more than one section of her routine. Though her quick-thinking throughout helped her avoid disaster, it affected her difficulty score. Lee earned a 14.500, seventh tenths of a point lower than her qualifying score.

It appeared several of the gymnasts, Lee included, might have been affected by the reportedly cold arena and lack of a one-touch warm-up. All-around bronze medalist Angelina Melnikova (ROC) couldn’t get over on a pirouette and had to hop off, while China’s Fan Yilin — the 2015 and 2017 world champion on bars — fell on her dismount. — Amy Van Deusen

Former Olympians took to Twitter to express their concern over the temperature and lack of one-touch warm-up ahead of events:

Final results:

  1. Nina Derwael, Belgium – 15.200

  2. Anastasiia Iliankova, ROC – 14.833

  3. Suni Lee, USA – 14.500

  4. Lu Yufei, China – 14.400

  5. Elisabeth Seitz, Germany – 14.400

  6. Melanie de Jesus dos Santos, France – 14.033

  7. Fan Yilin, China – 13.900

  8. Angelina Melnikova, ROC – 13.066

Men’s pommel horse: Whitlock retains title

In the final men’s event of the day, Max Whitlock of Great Britain, a three-time Olympian, repeated as Olympic pommel horse champion.

Competing in the tough opening spot, Whitlock’s routine featured the highest start value in the meet, a 7.0, which was two-tenths higher than any of his competitors. And it was clean. He also earned the second-highest execution score of the night. His 15.583 set a tough bar for the next seven men to clear.

Lee Chih Kai of Chinese Taipei finished in the silver-medal spot and Japan’s Kazuma Kaya earned bronze.

American Alec Yoder, who competed second, was off from the start of his routine. He had a major form break immediately in his routine and seemed to lose focus afterward. His 14.666 was enough to hold him in medal contention until Lee competed. He finished sixth.

Rhys McClenaghan, who earned attention as the funniest gymnast in Tokyo after posting about the “anti-sex beds” in the Athlete Village, was the first Irish gymnast to make an Olympic final. Unfortunately, he had difficulty throughout his routine and fell from the apparatus. He finished seventh. — Alyssa Roenigk

Final results:

  1. Max Whitlock, Great Britain – 15.583

  2. Lee Chih-kai, Chinese Taipei – 15.400

  3. Kazuma Kaya, Japan – 14.900

  4. David Belyavskiy, ROC – 14.833

  5. Kohei Kameyama, Japan – 14.600

  6. Alec Yoder, USA – 14.566

  7. Rhys McClenaghan, Ireland -13.100

  8. Sun Wei, China – 13.066

Women’s vault: Andrade continues to wow, and Skinner’s unlikely Olympic medal

One week ago, MyKayla Skinner thought that her Olympic competition had ended in the qualification round. Sunday, she stood on an Olympic podium, a silver medalist on vault.

With defending Olympic vault champion Simone Biles — whose withdrawal placed Skinner into the event — loudly cheering her on from the stands, Skinner opened the meet with a clean Cheng. It was her best vault of the Games and earned a 15.033, a higher score than either of her vaults during qualifying. On her second vault, an Amanar, Skinner took a slight hop to the left on her landing but kept her feet in bounds, good enough for a 14.8 and an overall score of 14.916.

Brazilian Rebeca Andrade, coming off of her Olympic silver medal in the all-around, competed two gymnasts later with the same vaults and more amplitude, besting Skinner by a little over a tenth of a point and ultimately edging her for gold. Brazil had never won an Olympic medal in women’s gymnastics until earlier this week, and now Andrade has won two.

Unlike in qualifying and team competition, gymnasts are not provided with what is known as a “one touch warmup” or a last-minute opportunity to warm up on the competition apparatus immediately before they compete. That rule has been highly debated, as the conversation at these Games has centered around athlete health and safety, especially in gymnastics.

On Jade Carey’s first vault, she mis-stepped on the runway as she approached the springboard and somehow had the wherewithal to throw just a tuck off the table. She saved her body from injury, but the mistake ended her night. Immediately, gymnastics fans took to twitter to call for #onetouchfinals. Impressively, though, Carey regrouped, went back to the start of the runway and performed a beautiful Amanar. Her dad, Brian, who is also her coach, hugged her tightly and consoled her after her turn.

Korean gymnast Yeo Seo-jeong performed a vault named for her and — 25 years after her father took silver in the event at the 1996 Games — earned the bronze. — Alyssa Roenigk

Final results:

  1. Rebeca Andrade, Brazil – 15.083

  2. MyKayla Skinner, USA – 14.916

  3. Yeo Seo-jeong, Korea – 14.733

  4. Alexa Moreno, Mexico – 14.716

  5. Angelina Melnikova, ROC – 14.683

  6. Liliia Akhaimova, ROC – 14.666

  7. Shallon Olsen, Canada – 13.066

  8. Jade Carey, USA – 12.416

Men’s floor exercise: History for Israel

In the first of four gymnastics event finals on Sunday at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Artem Dolgopyat of Israel won the gold medal on floor.

It was the first ever medal for Israel in gymnastics and is the country’s lone gold medal of the 2020 Olympics thus far, and third medal overall.

Dolgopyat, the 2020 European Champion on the event, had the highest score in qualifying and continued his dominance on Sunday. His mark was tied with Spain’s Rayderley Zapata, but Dolgopyat won the second tiebreak due to a higher difficulty score.

Zapata earned the silver medal and Ruoteng Xiao of China won the bronze.

Yul Moldauer, the only American in the competition, finished in sixth place out of eight. He stuck all but one of his tumbling passes but he caught his foot during a flairs sequence. –D’Arcy Maine

Final results:

  1. Artem Dolgopyat, Israel – 14.933

  2. Rayderley Zapata, Spain – 14.933

  3. Ruoteng Xiao, China – 14.766

  4. Sunghyun Ryu, South Korea – 14.233

  5. Milad Karimi, Kazakhstan – 14.133

  6. Yul Moldauer, USA – 13.533

  7. Nikita Nagornyy, ROC – 13.066

  8. Hansol Kim, South Korea – 13.066

Let the individual event finals begin

Sunday is the first day of individual event finals, and it will be a combination of men’s and women’s events. The top eight highest-scoring gymnasts from qualifying advanced on each event, with a maximum of two per country. The preliminary scores are now erased, however. The highest score on Sunday wins.

The schedule — you might want some coffee for this one:

4 a.m. ET: men’s floor
4:45 a.m. ET: women’s vault
5:45 a.m. ET: men’s pommel horse
6:27 a.m. ET: women’s uneven bars

Gold is up for grabs

Women’s vault: With the withdrawal of defending Olympic vault champion and two-time world vault champ Simone Biles, women’s vault could be very suspenseful. American MyKayla Skinner is taking Biles’ spot, and she and fellow American Jade Carey were tied for the highest difficulty totals in qualifying. Either could win gold, though Skinner’s execution scores were lower than Carey’s in the preliminary round. All-around silver medalist Rebeca Andrade scored between Carey and Skinner in qualifying, and she should be considered a favorite as well.

Men’s pommel horse: The American men’s best hope for an Olympic medal comes on this event, with Alec Yoder, a pommel horse specialist, qualifying in fourth. It should be noted, though, that the top three qualifiers (Chinese Taipei’s Lee Chih-kai, Ireland’s Rhys McClenaghan and Japan’s Kohei Kameyama) all tied with a 15.266, and Yoder scored a 15.200. It could be anyone’s gold here.

Women’s uneven bars: Suni Lee was second in preliminaries and has a real chance at the gold here, especially since she didn’t perform her full difficulty on that day. Unfortunately for her, she was drawn to compete first, which is considered a disadvantage in scoring. Watch to see if she connects all of her early release moves. If she does, she has the highest difficulty score in the group.

Belgium’s Nina Derwael was the top qualifier, is a two-time world champion on bars and is probably Lee’s biggest threat in the event, but top to bottom, this entire lineup is stacked. Biles had qualified in the final spot; she will be replaced by France’s Melanie de Jesus dos Santos. — Amy Van Deusen

Can you tell me more about the Americans?

Why, yes, we can. You’ve probably heard of Suni Lee by now, but even if you haven’t, check out this story on her impressive all-around win on Thursday. Bonus: There is a must-see video of her and her dad doing backflips. Trust us and go take a look.

Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner both qualified to Tokyo as individual competitors, and both have had wild rides during this Olympics. Skinner thought her Olympic experience was over after the qualifying rounds, while Carey took Biles’ spot in the all-around when Biles withdrew.

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