By Reuters

Simone Biles was expected to launch an all-out assault on the podium and record books at Tokyo 2020 but might not even match her five-medal effort at the 2016 Rio Olympics

Simone Biles‘ shot at a record five gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics suffered a blow on Sunday when the U.S. gymnast failed to qualify for the final on the asymmetric bars.

Already regarded as one of the sport’s all-time greats, Biles arrived in Tokyo targeting a record haul, including the mark of five gold medals at a single Olympics by a woman gymnast.

That target became much harder to hit, however, when she was bumped from the eighth and last spot in the bars final by Germany’s Elisabeth Seitz.

There will now be no room for error if Biles hopes to rewrite the record of four gold’s at a single Olympics she shares with the former-Czech Republic’s Vera Caslavska, Russia’s Larisa Latynina and Hungary’s Agnes Keleti.

The 24-year-old was expected to launch an all-out assault on the podium and record books in Tokyo but might not even match her five-medal effort at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Biles will still have a packed program in Tokyo leading the U.S. defence of their team title and her all-around crown while qualifying for the finals in the vault and floor exercise.

But she is also in danger of losing her spot in the beam final, sitting in seventh with the final group yet to finish.

The qualification round determines who will compete for the medals with eight countries advancing to the team final on Tuesday and the top 24 gymnasts, competing on all four apparatus, qualifying for Thursday’s all-around competition.

The top eight in each of the four apparatus will fight it out for the medals in those events.

With no spectators allowed inside the Ariake Gymnastics Centre due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was very much a business-like effort by Biles and her American team mates. However, it was far from business as usual with a resurgent Russian team firing a warning shot.

Russia, competing in Tokyo as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) because the country was stripped of its flag and anthem for doping offences, have not won the women’s team title since the United Team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics but leads with a mark of 171.629, more than a full point clear of the U.S. with 170.562.

The U.S. has won the team event in every Olympics and world championship since 2011.

The qualification round determines who will compete for the medals with eight countries advancing to the team final on Tuesday and the top 24 gymnasts, competing on all four apparatus, qualifying for Thursday’s all-around competition.

Even without the presence of thousands of screaming fans, the spotlight in a near empty arena seldom strayed from Biles, who was the focus of attention each time she stepped up to a piece of equipment.

With zero energy in the building, Biles got the competition off to a flat start by flying off the mat with both feet at the end of one tumbling pass during her floor exercise. But such was the degree of difficulty of her routine, that even with the big error she still sat second behind only Vanessa Ferrari of Italy.

She finished with the top mark in the vault but could not find her best form on the beam and uneven bars.

Biles’s marks, however, were still enough to but her top the all-around on 57.731 just ahead of team mate Sunisa Lee with 57.166.

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