(AP) — American gymnast Jade Carey has won the gold medal on floor exercise.
The 21-year-old from Arizona bounced back from a frightening stumble during the vault final on Sunday to claim the top spot on floor with a score of 14.366. The medal is the fifth claimed by the U.S. women’s gymnastics team in Tokyo even with star Simone Biles sitting out four finals to focus on her mental health.
Italian Vanessa Ferrari, fourth at both the 2008 and 2016 Olympics, claimed silver. The 30-year-old’s dramatic performance drew a roar from the various federations inside the Ariake Gymnastics Centre.
Angelina Melnikova of the team representing the Russian Olympic Committee and Mai Murakami of Japan tied for bronze with a score of 14.166. The gymnasts had both the same difficulty score and execution score in their routines.
Carey’s triumph came a day after she narrowly avoided serious injury when she tripped during the vault finals.
Carey could hear teammates roaring from the stands during her routine, Biles perhaps the loudest of them all.
“They were honestly the best teammates ever, especially (Sunday) night,” Carey said.
Even if they aren’t teammates, at least, not technically. Carey earned a spot in Tokyo by taking advantage of what turned out to be a one-time-only offer by the International Gymnastics Federation. The sport’s governing body made a provision for the 2020 Games that allowed athletes to lock up an individual nominative spot if they racked up enough points at World Cup events.
So the Careys spent 16 months flying to different continents, piling up podiums on vault and floor exercise along the way. They formally accepted the spot on the eve of the U.S. Olympic Trials, even though they knew it meant she was giving up a shot at making the four-woman team that ended up winning silver during the team competition last week.
Sound confusing? It is. The FIG has already abandoned the practice and is returning the team sizes to five women per country for the 2024 Games in Paris.
Yet all the paperwork and the politics and the patience paid off with a performance that brought her teammates to their feet and her father to near tears.
“It was definitely hard sometimes,” Jade Carey said. “I’m really glad that we stuck with our decision and did what we did. It was for the better.”