Tough day for top women in Tokyo

Simone Biles, who has dominated women's gymnastics over the past several years, made a stunning departure from the team event today, withdrawing as the Americans settled for silver. The U.S. women's softball team and tennis superstar Naomi Osaka also fell in their quest for gold.

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July 27, 2021 - 9:44 AM

Team USA's Simone Biles reacts after competing on the uneven bars in the women's team qualifying at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Photo by Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / TNS
Lydia Jacoby

TOKYO (AP) — Simone Biles came into the Olympics as perhaps the biggest star of the Games. Naomi Osaka was such a big headline act that she was given the honor to light the Olympic flame in her native country.

In a matter of just hours on Tuesday, Osaka was knocked out early from the Olympic tennis tournament and Biles pulled out of the gymnastics team competition with what USA Gymnastics described as a “medical issue.” 

USA Gymnastics did not specify the nature of Biles’ medical issue, saying in a statement she “will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”

Biles is scheduled to defend her Olympic title in the all-around final on Thursday. She also qualified for all four event finals later in the Games. Whether she will get that opportunity remains to be seen.

The team representing the Russia Olympic Committee surged past the short-handed U.S. to the top of the podium, posting a score of 169.258 to win the country’s first Olympic team gold in nearly 30 years.

The Americans hung on for silver and Great Britain won bronze. 

Osaka, who was born in Japan and grew up in the United States, struggled with her usually reliable groundstrokes and lost 6-1, 6-4 in the third round to former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 

“I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this,” Osaka said. “I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in the Olympics before and for the first year (it) was a bit much. I think I’m glad with how I played, with taking that break that I had.”

Osaka, who lit the Olympic cauldron in Friday’s opening ceremony, won her opening two matches in straight sets following a two-month mental-health break. 

Pitcher Catherine Osterman (38) of Team United States pitches in the Tokyo Olympics last week. The American dropped their first game of the tournament today. Unfortunately, it came in the gold medal match against Japan.. Photo by Yuichi Masuda / Getty Images / TNS

GO FOR GOLD

Japan won its second straight Olympic softball gold medal, beating the United States 2-0 in an emotional repeat of their 2008 victory in Beijing that again left the Americans in tears.

Yukiko Ueno took a one-hitter into the sixth inning five days after her 39th birthday, and Japan snuffed out an American rally attempt with an acrobatic double play in the sixth inning.

No. 9 batter Mana Atsumi had a run-scoring infield hit in the fourth inning and Yamato Fujita lined an RBI single off Monica Abbott in the fifth in building a 2-0 lead.

ALASKA GOLD

Seventeen-year-old Lydia Jacoby of Alaska pulled off a stunning victory in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke, upsetting American teammate and defending champion Lilly King.

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