The U.S. women’s gymnastics team didn’t have the cleanest qualifying at the 2021 Olympics. Jordan Chiles had some slips and falls, and even Simone Biles incurred a rare 0.3-point penalty during her floor exercise routine.
Nonetheless, the United States performed well enough in qualifying: Team USA easily made it into the team competition despite its off day, and will have two gymnasts representing the country in each of the individual events during the competition.
That said, gymnastics has some safeguards in place to ensure one country doesn’t completely dominate the finals in any one event. So while the U.S. women posted some of the best scores in each of the individual events and all-around qualifiers, only a few of them earned the right to compete in those finals at the Olympics.
Here’s why only Biles, Suni Lee and Jade Carey will compete for individual medals after the 2021 Olympic gymnastics qualifiers:
How gymnastics qualifications work for 2021 Olympics
There are two types of gymnastics qualifying at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The first is team qualifying, during which the four gymnasts on each national team participate in each of the four events: floor, vault, uneven bars and beam. The three highest scores in each event are taken into account for the team score, and the eight highest-scoring teams advance to the team final.
The United States (170.562) finished second to the Russian Olympic Committee (171.629) by 1.067 points in qualifying, easily advancing to the eight-team final.
Individual qualifying is a bit different. In total, 24 gymnasts will be chosen to compete for the all-around title, and eight will be chosen to participate in the finals for each of the four events. The top-scoring qualifiers advance to the event finals.
However, because of what’s known as the “two per” rule, no country can have more than two gymnasts participate in each event final, including the all-around final. For example, American gymnast MyKayla Skinner posted the fourth-highest score on the vault (14.866), but scored lower than teammates Biles (15.183) and Carey (15.166), the top two finishers in the event. So, despite Skinner performing better than several other gymnasts, she didn’t qualify because of the two per rule.
The two per rule played a big role in Team USA seeing just three of its six gymnasts earn a chance to participate in event finals. So too did Biles’ ability to qualify in every event, as it limited the available spots for Team USA’s other five gymnasts.
|Simone Biles||United States||57.731|
|Suni Lee||United States||57.166|
|Angelina Melnikova||Russian Olympic Committee||57.132|
|Vladislava Urazova||Russian Olympic Committee||57.099|
|Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos||France||55.431|
|Jessica Gadirova||Great Britain||55.199|
|Jennifer Gadirova||Great Britain||54.699|
|Yunseo Lee||South Korea||53.540|
Biles and Lee posted two of the top three scores among competitors to earn the right to represent the United States in the all-around competition. Three other American gymnasts placed within the top 24 and would’ve earned the right to represent the country if not for the two per rule: Carey (56.265) finished ninth, Skinner (55.398) finished 11th and Grace McCallum (55.165) finished 13th among the 80 gymnasts to finish the all-around competition.
Chiles was the only American gymnast who didn’t make the top 24. She finished in 40th place with a mark of 52.698 during qualifying.
|Simone Biles||United States||14.133|
|Jade Carey||United States||14.100|
|Jessica Gadirova||Great Britain||14.033|
|Viktoriia Listunova||Russian Olympic Committee||14.000|
|Angelina Melnikova||Russian Olympic Committee||14.000|
The floor exercise leaderboard held to form, as the top eight gymnasts from qualifying made it through. Biles and Carey earned the right to represent the United States in this event while Chiles, Skinner, McCallum and Lee finished 13th, 14th, 16th and 18th, respectively.
|Simone Biles||United States||15.183|
|Jade Carey||United States||15.166|
|Seojeong Yeo||South Korea||14.800|
|Liliia Akhaimova||Russian Olympic Committee||14.699|
|Angelina Melnikova||Russian Olympic Committee||14.616|
Carey and Skinner, the two individual competitors for Team USA at the Olympics, fought hard to earn a spot in the vault final. But it was Carey who ultimately came out on top. She trailed Biles by a mere .017 points in her quest for the top spot.
Meanwhile, Skinner finished with the fourth-highest score on the vault, a mark of 14.866; but, again, the two per rule kept her from participating in the vault final.
|Suni Lee||United States||15.200|
|Anastasiia Iliankova||Russian Olympic Committee||14.966|
|Angelina Melnikova||Russian Olympic Committee||14.933|
|Simone Biles||United States||14.566|
This was the only event where the two per rule had a positive impact for Team USA. The Russian Olympic Committee dominated this event and placed four finishers in the top six. Only Iliankova and Melnikova advanced, allowing Biles — the 10th-place finisher in the event — to make the uneven bars final. That will give her a chance to compete for a gold medal in each of the four individual events, the all-around competition and the team competition.
|Suni Lee||United States||14.200|
|Larisa Andreea Iordache||Romania||14.133|
|Simone Biles||United States||14.066|
|Vladislava Urazova||Russian Olympic Committee||14.000|
The beam final only saw one player in the top 10, China’s Yufei Lu, eliminated because of the two-per rule. This had no impact on Team USA, as Lee and Biles were both among the top seven performers. Team USA’s next highest finisher, Skinner, finished well outside the qualifying range, in 27th place.
As a result of these qualifying results, only three members of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team have earned the right to compete for individual gold medals: Biles, Lee and Carey. Chiles and McCallum will be limited to the team event, while Skinner’s bid for an Olympic medal has come to an end.