Stepping in! After Simone Biles withdrew from the individual all-around competition on Wednesday, July 28, Team USA gymnast Jade Carey stepped in to take her place.
The Arizona native, 21, finished in ninth place during the qualifying round on Sunday, July 25, putting her in third place among her American teammates Biles, 24, and Suni Lee. The International Gymnastics Federation rules limit each country to two athletes for each event in the finals, but Biles’ withdrawal means Carey can take her place.
Biles first withdrew from the team all-around competition on Tuesday, July 27, after appearing to lose herself in the air during her vault routine. The next day, USA Gymnastics announced that the athlete would also not compete in the individual all-around happening on Thursday, July 29.
“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health,” the organization said in a statement. “Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals. Jade Carey, who had the ninth highest score in qualifications, will participate in her place in the all-around.”
Carey is not part of the team that won silver in the all-around, but is set to compete in the floor exercise and vault finals this year. After her performance during the qualifying rounds, she took to Instagram to share her thoughts on her first trip to the Olympics.
“The beginning of an experience of a lifetime,” she wrote on Monday, July 26, alongside two photos from her debut. Lee, 18, replied in a comment, “So proud of you!!”
Like many gymnasts, Carey began her career in the sport at a very young age. “I believe she was about 4 years old; her dad and I were watching TV, and all of a sudden, oop, there goes a cartwheel,” her mother, Danielle Mitchell-Greenberg, told the Today show last month. “We looked at each other, and I said, ‘Did you teach her that?’ and he said, ‘No, did you?’ and I said, ‘No,’ and so I think we kind of knew at that point.”
Earlier this year, Carey told Us Weekly that she realized as a teenager she could turn her passion into a career. “I feel like I didn’t really understand until I was a little bit older — probably, like, 15 or 16 — that this is something that I could really do,” she said in April.
She began her senior career at age 17 in 2017, taking home the gold medal in vault and silver medal in floor exercise at the U.S. National Gymnastics Championships. In 2019, she won her first gold medal at the World Championships as part of the team’s all-around competition.
No matter what happens at the Olympics, she’s happy to be a role model for anyone who finds her journey inspiring.
“I never would have thought that would happen to me, but it’s definitely cool that little kids are going to be looking up to me,” she told Us. “I hope that I can inspire them to follow their dreams.”
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