Jade Carey wins gold medal in floor routine after rough start to Olympics

TOKYO — Jade Carey, the 21-year-old from Arizona, won gold in the women’s floor event Monday in Tokyo with a 14.366, higher than any of the qualifying scores, securing her title as the best tumbler in the world. It was her first Olympic medal and represents a stunning rebound from a disappointing night in her first individual event, Sunday's vault final.

Carey, competing second on Monday, was left waiting for an unusually long time while the judges scored Viktoriia Listunova of the Russian Olympic Committee, who had stumbled and stepped out of bounds. Carey paced along the perimeter of the mat, giving a thumbs up to the sideline, where her father and coach Brian was watching. And then she went out and performed a commanding routine, eliciting a standing ovation from the crowd, including her teammates Sunisa Lee and Simone Biles. 

After qualifiers, Carey, who earned a spot in Tokyo as an individual under new rules added for the 2020 Games, was scheduled to compete in the vault and floor routines. She had finished ninth in the all-around competition, but behind both Lee and Biles. Only two athletes per country are eligible to compete. When Biles withdrew from the all-around, citing the “twisties” that left her feeling unsafe, Carey took her spot. 

She finished eighth (in a field of 24) in the all-around after falling on the balance beam. She was expected to contend for a place on the podium in the vault, but finished last after a scary stumble in her run, part of a night that inspired criticism of the lack of “touch warmups” for the individual apparatus finals at the Olympics. 

In qualifiers for the floor, Carey had finished with a score of 14.100, behind only 30-year-old Vanessa Ferrari of Italy (14.166) and Biles, whose 14.133 was enough for second but unusually low for her. 

Biles’ decision to opt out of the floor competition cleared space for Jennifer Gadirova of Britain. 

Ferrari, a four-time Olympian, bounded off the mat after putting in a 14.200 performance, embracing Carey after celebrating with her coaches. She takes home silver, Italy’s first gymnastics medal since 1928. Mai Murakami of Japan shared bronze with Angelina Melnikova, and Murakami became Japan's first gymnastics medalist since it last hosted the Olympics in 1964.

Carey deferred plans to attend college at Oregon State to train for the Olympics and then again when the pandemic postponed the 2020 Games for another year.

Just before the floor finals started, USA Gymnastics announced that Simone Biles, who had qualified but withdrawn from the all-around and the other individual events, will return for the balance beam final, the last event of women’s gymnastics, on Tuesday night in Tokyo.

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