By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. gymnast Jade Carey had the daunting task of taking the place of Simone Biles in the all-around final at the Tokyo Games on Thursday but took it in her stride, finishing eighth before saying that the last few days had been “a little bit crazy”.
Biles, the four-time Olympic Champion, withdrew from the individual all-around competition on Wednesday citing mental health concerns, a day after she shocked the world by pulling out of the team event to prioritise her mental health.
There can only be a maximum of two gymnasts per country in the all-around final, which includes 24 competitors.
Biles’ withdrawal meant that 21-year-old Carey had to fill in on short notice.
“I just had to remember that I’ve been training all-around this whole time,” said Carey.
“I knew that I could do it.”
Ahead of Thursday’s final, Biles — who was sitting in the stands along with other members of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team — wished Carey luck and told her to have fun.
“I just wanted to go out there and do the best I can, have a lot of fun and I feel that’s exactly what I did,” Carey said.
Carey, who is set to compete in the vault and floor exercise finals, is coached by her father Brian Carey, who had a front-row seat to see his daughter compete.
“Having my dad out there by my side means everything to me,” she said. “I’m really glad that we’re able to share this together.”
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Toby Davis)