Suni Lee doesn’t expect finishing ahead of Simone Biles to be anything other than an aberration. Like all other gymnasts, she knows Biles is in a division of her own.
But if making the U.S. team for the Tokyo Olympics weren’t enough for Lee to relish, she bested the sport’s greatest gymnast in the all-around on Sunday.
Lee, 18, locked up one of the two guaranteed spots for the team with her second-place finish in the two-day event. And it took an uncharacteristically human night from Biles – with a mistake on uneven bars, a fall on balance beam and a step out of bounds on each of her first two floor passes – for Lee to hold the advantage.
But in a year when she’s battled through an ankle injury to make the team, it was a welcome surprise.
“I think that gives me a lot of confidence, especially because I still haven’t done all four passes on floor and then my bar routine could have been a little bit better,” Lee said. “I know it probably won’t happen again because her floor and vault, and she usually is pretty good on everything else. But I was really excited.”
Biles still won the two-day competition by 2.266, but Lee’s all-around score Sunday marked the first time anyone had bested Biles in any phase of an all-around meet since 2013.
Simone Biles finished in second place on Day 2 of the US Olympic Gymnastics Trials.
For anyone else, that constitutes a remarkable showing. But for the sport's greatest of all time, it was a pretty bad day at the office.
And she wasn't exactly subtle in her disappointment. The 24-year-old superstar was caught on cameras reacting viscerally to her less-than-perfect performances at the St. Louis, Missouri competition Sunday night.
It all started on vault, where Biles pulled off back-to-back skills very few other human beings could even fathom attempting. But her landings on both passes were rather lackluster, as she hopped a few feet before grounding herself on the mat.
She walked away and, after hugging her coaches, approached her teammate with a simple but effective message:
"Those sucked," Biles said.
She went on to finish first in the event.
When it came time for the uneven bars - which is not typically as strong an event for her as vault is - Biles was already on edge. And when she found herself wobbling on the low bar early in the routine, she was downright angry.
"I want to die," the mics picked up as Biles walked towards fellow gymnasts Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum.
On Wednesday, the organizers for the Tokyo Olympics made a decision on whether nursing mothers can bring their children with them.
The organizers decided that nursing mothers will be allowed to bring their children to the upcoming Olympics when necessary. Although this might sound like a solution for athletes who were previously trying to choose between the Games and their children, it turns out this isn’t a helpful response for everyone.
United States Women’s National Team star Alex Morgan shared her response to the latest ruling on Twitter. She revealed she’s still waiting to figure out if she can bring her daughter with her to Tokyo.
“Still not sure what when necessary’ even means,” Morgan wrote. “Is that determined by the mother or the IOC? We are Olympic mothers telling you, it is NECESSARY. I have not been contacted about being able to bring my daughter with me to Japan and we leave in 7 days.”
Morgan recently expressed the importance of mothers being able to have their kids with them for the Tokyo Olympics, so it’s easy to understand why she’s frustrated with the committee’s vague answer.
The main reason why the organizers are hesitant to loosen their restrictions for Olympic athletes who are parents is because of the uncertainty regarding COVID-19.
“Given that the Tokyo 2020 Games will take place during a pandemic, overall we must unfortunately decline to permit athletes’ family members or other companions to accompany them to the Games,” the organizers said. “However, after careful consideration of the unique situation facing athletes with nursing children, we are pleased to confirm that, when necessary, nursing children will be able to accompany athletes to Japan.”
As Metro reported, the FINA committee said it would not permit the swim caps because given the group's "best knowledge," competing athletes "never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration."
It also said the caps would not be permitted because they didn't fit "the natural form of the head."
According to the 2020 FINA Olympic rule book, it's "permissible to wear two swim caps." The rules also say that manufacturers of new swimwear and caps that include "a new design, construction, or material" must "submit the swimwear to FINA to obtain its approval" before its worn during competitions.
Toks Ahmed and Michael Chapman, the founders of Soul Cap, said in a statement sent to Insider that "this isn't just about the Olympics."
"This is also about the lower leagues of competition swimming — for swimmers at an age where feeling included is so pivotal in their development and goals," Ahmed said. "We don't see this rejection as a setback, but rather a chance to open up an important dialogue and make a bigger difference."
"The response and support around this issue has been phenomenal," Chapman added. "We hope our story highlights the lack of diversity in aquatics and drives long-term change in sporting rules."
The duo shared a similar sentiment on their brand's Instagram page, writing that having the swim caps certified for competitions would have aided their goal of increasing diversity in swimming.
In the aftermath of Sunday night’s announcement that MyKayla Skinner was headed to Tokyo as one of the six women who comprise the U.S. Women’s Olympic gymnastics team, some pushback emerged.
Not that Skinner didn’t deserve to make the Olympic team. Rather, many were disappointed that she wasn’t named to the four-woman team and was instead one of two gymnasts — fellow Arizonan Jade Carey being the other — who will compete in Tokyo as individuals.
The team, made up of Simone Biles, Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum, are the the gold medal favorites. Anything less than that will be a disappointment. As an individual, Skinner has a much more difficult path to earning a medal.
In qualification, she will need to finish as one of the best 36 gymnasts in the world on the events she wishes to compete for a medal on. It doesn’t end there, though. She will also have to finish in the top two of all the American gymnasts. That means if Skinner hopes to medal on vault, for example — her best event — she’ll have to beat all but one of Biles, Lee, Chiles, McCallum and Carey in qualification.
It is a difficult path to be sure, even on her best events. Needless to say, Skinner’s supporters were disappointed, particularly in light of how close the race for the final team spot was.
Per Team USA head coach Tom Forster, the computer models used by the selection committee actually had Skinner ahead of McCallum for the fourth and final spot on the team, but ultimately the committee elected to choose McCallum.
“Between Grace and MyKayla, there were tenths of a point between them at championships, and this weekend over the two-day period Grace ended up in fourth and so that’s how we decided,” Forster said in a press conference Sunday. “Even though the computer tells us MyKayla on the team would be a couple of tenths higher, we’re so, so fortunate that our athletes are so strong that I don’t think it’s going to come down to tenths of a point in Tokyo. We didn’t feel like it was worth changing the integrity of the process simply for a couple of tenths.”
In a video posted Wednesday on her YouTube channel, Skinner talked about qualifying for the Olympics as an individual, and at this point, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I knew there was a chance I could be an individual, but I didn’t know if they’d want to take me because Jade and I are so similar in our gymnastics,” Skinner said. “I didn’t know if they wanted to take two of the same people who could specialize in the same events, but I feel like it was well-deserved and I’m super super grateful that they put me in that position and gave me the opportunity.
“I’ve seen a ton of comments from people who wish I was on the four-man team, but I love Grace and I’m so glad that she made it. I love all the girls that are on the team. I’m just super, super happy for all of them it melts my heart, and I’m happy for myself. I know that I really wanted to be on the four-man team, but taking an individual spot is still awesome. I am so proud of myself that I did the best that I could do and that is really all that matters. This is seriously so cool.”