Tokyo Olympics live updates: US seeks more gold in swimming, women’s gymnastics

At the Tokyo Olympics, gymnast Simone Biles continues to be the main topic of discussion. The defending gold medalist in the women’s all-around competition qualified first for Thursday’s final, but withdrew to focus on her mental health. Jade Carey will take Biles’ place for Team USA.

The question now is whether or not Biles will compete in any of next week’s individual event finals

Elsewhere, the men’s individual golf competition gets underway with opening round play. Men’s singles tennis moves into the quarterfinal round, while the women have their semifinals.

And five more medals are up for grabs in the pool, with Americans Hali Flickinger and Regan Smith in the finals of the women’s 200-meter butterfly, and Caeleb Dressel going for gold in the men’s 100 free final.

Swimmers Regan Smith, front, and Hali Flickinger will both represent Team USA in the finals of the women's 200-meter butterfly on Thursday.

WEDNESDAY RECAP: Katie Ledecky, USA women’s 3×3 basketball win gold

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What could go wrong if Simone Biles should push forward and compete in the Olympics if she isn’t in the proper frame of mind mentally? The inherent danger of the moves required in elite-level gymnastics could lead to serious physical damage. 

That’s the message former Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu emphasized in a social media post on Wednesday. A video of her falling on the balance beam, hitting her head and neck and suffering an undiagnosed injury — and continuing to compete — shows just what Biles could have been facing.

Her most important point: Biles has the right to make a decision about her health, something Moceanu felt she didn’t have as a 14-year-old Olympian.

TOKYO — Expecting Simone Biles to produce medals on command, or not seeing her for anything beyond her athletic achievements, is dehumanizing, teammate Sam Mikulak said. It’s no wonder Biles reached a point where her mental health was precarious enough that she felt she had no choice but to withdraw from the team and all-around competitions.

“You go on Twitter and everyone’s like, ‘Oh, I’m really expecting this. I want this from this person.’ And, ‘Oh, Simone is going to be the medal factory of the world,’” Mikulak said Wednesday night after the men’s all-around, where he finished 12th. 

Biles came to Tokyo as the biggest star of the Games, projected to win a record five gold medals. But she pulled out of Tuesday night’s team competition after the first event and has since withdrawn from Thursday’s all-around.

Sam MIkulak and Simone Biles.

A six-time U.S. champion and three-time Olympian, Mikulak understands what Biles is experiencing. Just before he left for Tokyo, in fact, he was feeling some of the old anxiety, but was able to recognize it and address it.

“Everyone really needs to start focusing on their mental health a lot more, really ask the hard questions for your personal self, because those are the questions that are going to eat you up when you get out in these big pressure situations and you feel these expectations from the whole world,” Mikulak said. “Being able to tackle it early on is going to be the solution in the future.”

— Nancy Armour and Rachel Axon

Olympic golf an ‘unbelievable’ experience for PGA Tour’s Thomas

TOKYO – Even before Justin Thomas teed it up for his first shot Thursday at Kasumigaseki Country Club, he’s already made his mind up about playing golf in the Olympics.

“This is the coolest thing I’ve ever been a part of,” the 28-year-old Louisville native said on the eve of golf’s second run since rejoining the Olympics in 2016. “Going to the village and checking out the USA building. It’s so hard to explain. It’s unbelievable.”

Thomas is No. 4 in the world with a win at the Players Championship in May that helped to put him on the hard-to-make U.S. Olympic team. Other Americans in the 60-man field are world No. 3 Collin Morikawa, No. 5 Xander Schauffele and No. 12 Patrick Reed (replacing No. 6 Bryson DeChambeau, out due to a positive COVID test).

— Jeff Metcalfe

TOKYO — Not one to take long vacations, Las Vegas Aces guard Jackie Young figured a three- or four-day trip to Florida during the WNBA’s Olympics layoff was an appropriate respite. 

She didn’t stay long. 

The WNBA’s 2019 No. 1 overall pick got a call from the USA Basketball selection committee letting her know that a member of the U.S. 3-on-3 team had tested positive for COVID-19 and they wanted her to join the squad.

Members of team United States, from left to right, Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young, Stefanie Dolson and Allisha Gray pose with their gold medals during the awards ceremony for women's 3-on-3 basketball at the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Young, who played college ball at Notre Dame, flew from vacation to Las Vegas to begin the testing protocol. She met her new teammates in Tokyo. And on Wednesday, they defeated the Russian Olympic Committee in the championship game.

“It’s crazy to think about,” Young said. “Ten days ago, I was on vacation. My life changed like that. Now I’m a gold-medalist. It’s crazy how things work out.” 

 Chris Bumbaca

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