Jamaican Olympian Toni-Ann Williams is in Belgium to begin studies in Sports Administration on an Olympic Solidarity Scholarship via the Jamaica Olympic Association.

Nicole Grant is of the view that the new additions to the board of the Jamaica Amateur Gymnastics Association will bring the required dynamism needed to take the sport forward in Jamaica.

It was by no means certain the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympics would even go ahead, such was the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But go ahead they did and now here we stand on the eve of the closing ceremony in the Japanese capital.

They have certainly been a Games like no other and we all hope future Olympics will not be held under such unusual circumstances, and judging the success of Tokyo 2020 is no easy feat given the measures to do so are too arbitrary.

Having said that, here are the highs of the Games and some of the lows, too.

The highs…

WARHOLM AND MCLAUGHLIN HAMMER THE HURDLES

Karsten Warholm revelled in bringing the "wow" factor to the men's 400m hurdles, and rightly so. The Norwegian became the first man to break the 46-second barrier – running an astonishing 45.94 seconds to smash his own world record, five weeks after breaking a benchmark held by Kevin Young for 29 years. A day later, Sydney McLaughlin battered her own world record in the women's race, clocking in at 51.46s.

VAN VLEUTEN'S HEARTWARMING TRIUMPH

Five years ago in Rio, Annemiek van Vleuten was on course for victory in the women's cycling road race until a high-speed crash left her with minor fractures to her spine. To make matters worse, the Dutchwoman made headlines for celebrating what she thought was victory in the same event here in Tokyo – only to realise she had finished second behind runaway winner Anna Kiesenhofer. But finally, her golden moment arrived in the women's time trial – at the age of 38 years and 293 days, she became the third-oldest woman to win Olympic gold for the Netherlands.

SWIMMING STARS PROVE THERE'S LIFE AFTER PHELPS

Michael Phelps is an Olympics legend and no one can lay claim to more than the 23 golds or 28 overall medals he accrued over between 2004 and 2016. But a stellar cast this year proved swimming is in a very strong position. Emma McKeon took home seven medals (including four golds) – the joint-most of any woman at a single Games – while Ariarne Titmus' 200m and 400m free double was memorable, particularly her win over the great Katie Ledecky in the latter race. Caeleb Dressel took five golds to show his potential as Phelps' heir apparent, while Adam Peaty stunned again for Great Britain. It was some week in the pool.

THOMPSON-HERAH DOES THE DOUBLE-DOUBLE

Elaine Thompson-Herah announced herself to the world stage with a 100 and 200m sprint double at Rio 2016 but injuries in the intervening years stemmed her momentum a little. However, she peaked at the perfect time in Tokyo and backed up her double from Brazil – becoming the first woman to repeat on the 100 and 200m. Indeed, only Usain Bolt had ever previously done so.

THE AZZURRI'S GOLDEN HOUR

There was a shock in the men's 100m final where the unheralded Marcell Jacobs started the post-Bolt era with gold. That followed on from countryman Gianmarco Tamberi having minutes earlier shared high jump glory with Mutaz Essa Barshim. There were hugs aplenty as Italy, surely celebrating their greatest night at an Olympics, won two athletics golds at the same Games since Athens in 2004.

NEW EVENTS CATCH THE IMAGINATION

One of the most fascinating aspects of any Olympics is the new sports and categories that get added to the programme. At Tokyo 2020, skateboarding, surfing and climbing have all attracted new and younger audiences to the Games – while the addition of mixed triathlon and the mixed 4x400m track relay have been successes.

BILES' INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE

On the one hand, the fact we saw so little of Simone Biles and some of the reprehensible bilge aimed her way over the decision to pull out of the women's team event after just one rotation and then miss four individual events can be seen as a negative. But, on the other hand, the fact that she came back to take bronze on the balance beam and use her platform to promote the importance of protecting mental health has to be seen as a high. It takes bravery and courage in her position to speak on such matters. Kudos to you, Simone.

And the lows…

EMPTY STADIUMS AN ENDURING IMAGE

Let's start with the obvious here and something that has been spoken about pretty relentlessly. The absence of fans has had a huge cost on the atmosphere at these Games. Magical moments and career peaks played out in front of huge, empty stadia has undoubtedly been a huge negative. Many will take the fact we got here and managed to hold a Games at all as a positive. And it is. But at times, the whole thing felt a bit… meh.

TENNIS' HEADLINE ACTS FAIL TO DELIVER

With so many of the top male players opting to skip Tokyo, there was a big focus on Novak Djokovic and the next checkmark on his quest for a rare Golden Slam (only Steffi Graf has ever done it). The Serbian fell short, dropping out at the semi-final stage then getting a little stroppy. Big things were also expected of Naomi Osaka – a home hope and the 'face of the Games'. She made it as far as round three before going down to Marketa Vondrousova.

THE TSIMANOUSKAYA SAGA

One of the ugliest stories to emerge from the Games was the story of Belarusian runner Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who refused to board a flight after allegedly being taken to the airport against her will following her public criticism of her team's organisation on social media. Tsimanouskaya competed in only one event and claimed she was entered into a 4x400m relay despite never racing in the discipline, suggesting that was a result of members of the team being considered ineligible due to not completing enough doping tests. The Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation indicated Tsimanouskaya feared for her life upon returning to Minsk. The country is under the authoritarian leadership of president Alexander Lukashenko, whose son Viktor heads the national Olympic committee (NOC). Both men were banned last December from attending Tokyo 2020. The whole thing has been really rather unsavoury.

China added three more golds to their tally at Tokyo 2020 as they continue to lead the Olympic medal table.

It was a dominant final day of artistic gymnastics competition for China, with victory for Zou Jingyuan in the men's parallel bars and for Guan Chenchen in the women's beam final as she beat compatriot Tang Xijing and the returning Simone Biles.

China also took gold and silver in the men's 3m springboard final, which saw Xie Siyi claim the title ahead of Wang Zongyuan.

The United States are eight gold medals behind China, the American team winning two on Tuesday.

Athing Mu earned a stunning victory in the women's 800m, the 19-year-old prevailing in an outstanding final in which seven of the eight runners finished under one minute and 58 seconds.

The other USA gold on day 11 came from Tamyra Mensah-Stock in the women's 68kg freestyle wrestling.

After drawing a blank on Monday, Japan had athletes back on the top of the podium with two more gold medals, taking their total to 19.

Daiki Hashimoto claimed his second gold of the Games by winning the horizontal bar final and Sena Irie took the Olympic women's featherweight boxing title.

Japan have a five-gold buffer to Australia, who are fourth in the medal table with 14, while the Russian Olympic Committee and Great Britain are tied on 13 apiece.

Great Britain's performance on their water allowed them to move level with the Russian Olympic Committee, as they won two of the four sailing golds on offer on the day.

 

Simone Biles explained the bronze medal she won on her return to action in Tuesday's women's balance beam final will hold a special place in her vast collection of honours.

The United States gymnastics great withdrew from the team final at the Tokyo Olympics to take care of her mental health and also did not contest the uneven bars, all-around, vault and floor – the latter three being events where she won gold at Rio 2016.

There was much anticipation after Biles' participation on the beam was confirmed and she produced a wonderful display to match the third-place finish she claimed five years ago.

In the circumstances, both of her own absence and the unexpected passing of her aunt two days ago, Biles acknowledged this feels like a far greater achievement than her exploits in Brazil, which merely garnished a haul of four golds.

"It's been a very long week, a very long five years. I didn't expect to medal today, I just wanted to go out and do it for me, and that's what I did," she said.

"It definitely feels more special, this bronze, than the balance beam bronze at Rio. I will cherish it for a long time.

"Just to have the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games meant the world, because training for five years and then coming here, then kind of being triggered and not being able to do anything, it wasn't fun.

"To go out there and compete one more time and have everyone's support meant the world."

Biles repeated her calls for fans and the wider public to show empathy and kindness towards athletes on social media, given others could be experiencing similar struggles to hers this week at any given time.

 

"Two days ago my aunt unexpectedly passed, and that was something I wasn't expecting to happen at the Olympic Games either, so at the end of the day, you have to be a little bit more mindful of what you say online, because you have no idea of what these athletes are going through as well as [in] their sports," she said, before explaining the efforts behind the scenes that went into her being able to resume competition.

"Every day I had to be medically evaluated by the doctors, and then I had two sessions with a sports psychologist which kind of helped keep me more level-headed. 

"I was cleared to do beam, which I honestly didn't think I'd be cleared to do last night."

After her withdrawal from the team event, Biles explained she had been suffering from the "twisties" – a kind of mental block that can affect a gymnast's sense of space and dimension while in mid-air – and this prompted a change to her planned routine.

"I had nerves but they felt pretty good," she said. "I was pretty nervous for my dismount, just because we had to switch it [from a twisting dismount]. I probably haven't done a double pike dismount since I was 12, so it was kind of hard to control that.

"Usually on my events I kind of let the rhythm flow, but today I kind of had some cues, like on my switch leap, 'Up, forward,' and stuff like that."

Biles will be 27 by the time the Paris Olympics come around in 2024 and would not be drawn on whether or not she will feature in the French capital.

"I'm going to focus on myself a little more often rather than push that under the rug," she added.

"I just need to process this whole Olympic term first. It's been a lot. It's been a long five years."

Simone Biles provided further inspiration when she returned to action on Tuesday and secured a bronze medal on the balance beam.

China enjoyed success with a Guan Chenchen and Tang Xijing one-two, but the American gymnast stole the headlines on her first appearance back after withdrawing from the team final last week.

Mental health concerns were cited as the reason for Biles stepping away from the team events and other individual disciplines, though the 24-year-old excelled in her sole event on the beam.

The four-time Rio Olympics gold medallist reminded the world of her quality with a 14.000 score, and, despite Chenchen's last-ditch 14.633, she produced an emphatic return for the United States.

"I was just happy to be able to perform, regardless of the outcome," Biles explained after Tuesday's event. "I did it for me, and I was just proud of myself for being able to compete one more time.

"Just to have the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games meant the world, because training for five years and then coming here, then kind of being triggered and not being able to do anything, it wasn't fun.

"To go out there and compete one more time and have everyone's support meant the world."

To add to Biles' memorable comeback, the USA's basketball stars nudged past Spain 95-81 to reach the Olympic semi-finals, with Kevin Durrant netting a team-high 29 points to drive his side towards victory.

It was a far from convincing performance from the USA, however, as they trailed 39-25 at one point in the second quarter before rallying impressively to level at 43-43 at the halfway stage.

THOMPSON-HERAH COMPLETES DOUBLE-DOUBLE

Elaine Thompson-Herah motored to sprinting history as she won the 200 metres women's final to complete the sprint double-double.

The Jamaican set a new national record with 21.53 seconds, the second-fastest time in the history of the event, making herself just the second athlete ever, after Usain Bolt, to win both titles at consecutive Games.

Thompson-Herah, who claimed 100-metre gold on Saturday after doubling up for the first time at Rio 2016, just missed out on Florence Griffith-Joyner's 1988 world record by 0.19s.

"Oh my god, it's amazing that I have ever seen this day. That I could complete another double. I can't believe it," the 29-year-old said after the 200 metres final.

"I really had to pull it out to win the 200m. It's a new PB [personal best] and a national record. I am so, so happy.

"Honestly I am so tired, my legs just need some rest. I've done so many races in the last few days, but I am very grateful."

WARHOLM'S WORLD

Karsten Warholm demolished the world record with a remarkable 400 metres hurdles triumph, smashing the previous record run for a second time in five weeks.

At the start of July in Oslo, Warholm cut 0.08 seconds off Kevin Young's longstanding record that was set at the Barcelona Games in 1992, though the 25-year-old slashed even more off in Tuesday's final.

The Norwegian star powered through in 45.94s, hacking an astounding 0.76s off the global mark to secure a memorable victory.

"It's just so big. It's almost like history here. It was the only thing missing from my collection," the 25-year-old said after his win. "I had a World Championships [gold medal]. I had European Championships, I had the world record, the European record.

"The Olympic gold medal is what everybody talks about. I knew this race was going to be the toughest of my life, but I was ready."

The top three finishers all beat the previous Olympic record, with American silver medallist Rai Benjamin running 46.17, yet the performance of Benjamin's life was simply no match for Warholm.

 

BRAZIL PREPARE TO DEFEND TITLE

Brazil inflicted shoot-out heartbreak on Mexico after a 0-0 stalemate in 120 minutes to set up a final showpiece with Spain.

Reinier converted the crucial spot-kick and, with Eduardo Aguirre and Johan Vasquez missing, the defending Olympic champions ran out 4-1 victors.

"Playing the final match in the Olympics is a dream," said Brazil's head coach Andre Jardine. "The film I saw was the film of life. Everything we’ve gone through. Although we didn’t win in the 90 minutes, we took more risks."

Japan suffered extra-time agony in their semi-final against Spain as Marco Asensio's late winner sunk the host nation to tee up a mouth-watering prospect for Saturday's final.

Despite footballing disappointment, women's boxer Sena Irie provided the host nation reason to celebrate as she edged past the Philippines' 2019 world champion Nesthy Petecio to achieve gold.

Irie's win in the women’s featherweight class final means she is Japan’s first female boxing champion at the Olympics.

CYCLING CHAOS

Germany twice recorded world record rides to earn their first gold – and, in fact, their first ever medal – in the women's team pursuit cycling track event.

A strong Great Britain side, including Laura Kenny, awaited Germany in the final but the team of Mieke Kroeger, Franziska Brausse, Lisa Brennauer and Lisa Klein produced the ride of their lives to finish in 4:06.159, almost two seconds quicker than the previous record.

In a dramatic day of cycling, the reigning world champions Netherlands won their first gold since 1936 in the men's team sprint as Team GB again had to settle for silver inside the velodrome.

That silver for Jason Kenny meant he became the first athlete to win eight Olympic medals in cycling track events and also equalled the total medal haul of Britain's most successful Olympian Sir Bradley Wiggins.

More controversy filled Tuesday's track events, with Denmark's Frederik Madsen crashing into the back of Team GB's Charlie Tanfield inside the closing kilometre of the men's team pursuit heats.

The UCI later deemed the Danes, who were near two seconds ahead of their opponents, to have completed a successful catch to make it through to Thursday's final against Italy, despite the incident.

Max Whitlock is already looking to Paris and potentially beyond after becoming a three-time Olympic champion by defending his pommel horse gold at Tokyo 2020.

The Team GB gymnast was up first and produced an outstanding performance, scoring 15.583 and ensuring the pressure was on his rivals at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre.

Lee Chih-kai of Chinese Taipei fell short with a score of 15.400, while home favourite Kazuma Kaya secured the bronze.

This marks Whitlock's third Games, with his first at London 2012 yielding two bronze medals before he won two golds and a bronze in Rio five years ago.

The postponement of these Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic means there are only three years until Paris 2024. Whitlock believes that will ultimately play into his favour, while he has not fully ruled out competing in Los Angeles in seven years' time.

"I was thinking that [about competing in Paris] before Tokyo even started. I would really, really love to make it four Olympic Games," he told a round-table of journalists.

"I feel very proud to have done my third and you obviously get the results to go with it, the three-year cycle helps me out – I'm 28 years old now, every year that goes by it gets harder and harder, there's no doubt about that.

"But a three-year cycle can help me out a lot. Competitions will come around in no time, I know that, and Paris will be here before we know it. 

"Hopefully, I'd love to look towards that, then who knows? At that point in my career, being completely honest, I'd have to look how the British team is faring up and see if there's an opening for me to give LA a shot. We'll see how the team is looking."

 

As part of his preparations for Tokyo, Whitlock would train in empty gyms back at home to prepare for the absence of spectators.

While he was disappointed for fans not to be present, Whitlock insists the rush of winning was just as big as it was in Rio.

"I mean it's a huge shame no fans were there, there's no doubt about that, I think every athlete would agree," he added.

"But there was still atmosphere which is incredible. It was quieter, obviously, but the feeling was no different to what it would have been with fans because it's the result that means so much to you, with the routine and the performance - I still got that amazing feeling which is incredible. 

"But yeah there's no doubt it would have been a dream to have a fully packed audience in there especially being in Japan with gymnastics, they love the sport, and the Japanese getting on the pommel podium as well and doing what they've done this whole time, I feel like this atmosphere would have been incredible. But there's no doubt it was still amazing."

Whitlock has been away from his wife Leah and daughter Willow for around a month, due to pre-Games preparations and training camps.

He said his family help to keep things in perspective when the pressure of competition mounts.

"I've spoken to them all, they're massively proud. They can't believe it as much as me," he said. "It's been a bit of a surreal moment and a crazy journey to get to this point, it really has been. 

"To go and do that I feel like the pressure was massively, massively on this time. It's probably the most nervous I've felt before any competition I've ever done in my whole life. To pull it off I'm really, really pleased. I literally cannot wait to get home and see everybody.

"I think it puts a lot of things into perspective. One of the things I spoke to Leah about before I went out to compete, she could kind of tell I was massively nervous. She said, 'Remember, it's gymnastics'. 

"I think that's what it does, I think it puts a lot of things into perspective, facetiming my whole family and Willow running around playing with her cousins, which is amazing. 

"It makes me feel 10 times more chilled, and it's kind of another thing I can think about, whether you have a good competition or don't have a good competition, I actually still look forward to going home massively.

"We were talking about it earlier, and thanks to the NHS because I'm double jabbed I can literally go back straight away, no quarantine, spend time with my family, spend time with the people who helped me get to this point straight away, which is an incredible feeling. 

"They've massively helped me put a lot of things into perspective because sport can be intense and can be hard at times. I think having your mind in the right place before you compete is massively important."

China have a commanding lead at the top of the Tokyo 2020 medal table following another hugely successful day at the Olympics.

Five gold medals on day 10 took China's tally for the Games to 29.

Two of those came in weightlifting as Wang Zhouyu prevailed in the women's 87kg category and Li Wenwen set an Olympic record in the +87kg division.

Zhang Changhong won the men's 50m air rifle three positions, China's women took team sprint gold in the velodrome and Liu Yang beat compatriot You Hao in the men's rings final.

It means China are seven golds ahead of the United States, with two more Americans becoming Olympic champions on Monday.

Jade Carey was triumphant in the women's floor exercise final and Valarie Allman took gold in the discus throw.

Japan are third in the table after a day in which they failed to add any golds to their tally of 17.

Australia (14 golds) and the Russian Olympic Committee (12 golds) are fourth and fifth having also been kept off the top step of the podium.

Breathing down the neck of the Russian Olympic Committee are Great Britain, their tally of golds increased to 11 with victory in team eventing.

 

Soufiane El Bakkali ended Kenya's dominance in the men's 3000m steeplechase by claiming a first Olympic gold medal for Morocco in any sport since 2004.

The Kenyans have set the standard in this event in recent times, winning gold at each of the previous nine Games.

But El Bakkali put paid to that streak, claiming victory ahead of Ethiopia's Lamecha Girma as Benjamin Kigen collected a bronze for Kenya.

The last Moroccan to claim prevail sport was Hicham El Guerrouj, who won the men's 1500m and 5000m in Athens 17 years ago.

"I am so used to seeing Kenyans win, it's a big accomplishment for me," El Bakkali said. 

"I have been aiming for this for years and this was my opportunity to show that Morocco is capable of winning this prize in front of the Kenyans. 

"I have tried so many times to compare myself with the Kenyans and Ethiopians to see whether I could reach this gold, and I did."


HASSAN HAT-TRICK BID ON TRACK

Sifan Hassan is aiming to become the first athlete to win a 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m treble at a single Olympic Games.

The Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman, who recovered from a fall to get through her 1500m heat earlier in the day, got her bid off to an outstanding start with victory in the 5000m on Monday.

"After I fell down, it cost me a lot of energy, I went home and I wanted to sleep," said Hassan, who claimed the Netherlands' first Olympic gold in athletics since 1992.

"Many people think I am crazy. I think also I am crazy. Many people think this is crazy and I am not even going to get one medal. 

"Life is not about the gold, the winner; it's also about following your heart."


CANADA END TEAM USA HOODOO TO REACH FINAL

Canada sensationally ended a 36-game winless run against the United States, Jessie Fleming's penalty securing a place in the women's football final.

The Canadians had not beaten Team USA – four-time Olympic gold medallists – since March 11, 2001.

However, their luck changed with Fleming's 74th-minute penalty settling the semi-final after VAR ruled that Tierna Davidson had fouled Deanne Rose.

Canada's reward is a gold-medal showdown with Sweden, who beat Australia 1-0 thanks to Fridolina Rolfo's second-half strike.

On a brighter note for the United States away from football, it was announced Simone Biles will take part in Tuesday's balance beam final.


FOUR-MIDABLE LOPEZ

Mijain Lopez became the first male Greco-Roman wrestler to win four gold medals at the Olympics after defeating Georgia's Iakobi Kajaia in the 130kg final.

His success saw him receive a congratulatory call from Cuba president Miguel Diaz-Canel, while he did not rule out carrying on through to Paris 2024 either.

"I feel happy, proud to be the best in the world and make history," Lopez said.

"I've had a long career, working hard to make these goals and break this record. 

"I've been working so hard to get to this point. Being able to break this record today for me is a great achievement, because I've faced the best and I can be proud."


DEJA VU IN THE WOMEN’S HOCKEY

Having contested the 2016 final in Rio, Great Britain and the Netherlands will face off again at the Games - this time in a mouth-watering last-four showdown.

Team GB required a shoot-out to see off Spain following a 2-2 draw, with Hannah Martin and Sarah Jones scoring their efforts while goalkeeper Maddie Hinch produced heroics to seal a 2-0 success.

Martin said: "It's a huge moment for us to get to those medal matches. We're just over the moon.

"Maddie was absolutely exceptional in there. We knew she had it and the feeling was utter elation. I couldn't get to her quick enough."

As for the Netherlands, they enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win over New Zealand.

Simone Biles is set to make her long-awaited return in the Tokyo Olympics after being named on the starting list for Tuesday's balance beam final.

The United States star withdrew from the other four individual events for which she had qualified after pulling out of the women's team competition after just one rotation.

Biles, who won four gold medals at the Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, cited a need to focus on her mental health as she chose not to contest the individual all-round, vault, uneven bars and floor exercise finals.

USA Gymnastics said in a statement on Sunday: "Simone has withdrawn from the event final for floor and will make a decision on beam later this week. Either way, we're all behind you, Simone."

However, the team announced via Twitter on Monday: "We are so excited to confirm that you will see two U.S. athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow - Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!! Can’t wait to watch you both!"

Speaking last week via Instagram, Biles explained her mind and body were "simply not in sync" as she struggled with a mental block over her technique.

"For anyone saying I quit, I didn't quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync as you can see here," Biles wrote on her story. "I don't think you realise how dangerous this is on a hard/competition surface. Nor do I have to explain why I put health first. Physical health is mental health.

"It's honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your mind [and] body in sync.

"Literally cannot tell up from down. It's the craziest feeling ever, not having an inch of control over your body."

Jeff Henderson, who won long jump gold for the USA in Rio, praised Biles for speaking openly about her difficulties.

"Almost every athlete [has these problems]. They just don’t speak on it," Henderson told Stats Perform.

"Every athlete goes through a mental breakdown or [has to] figure out their brain, what to do, over-thinking - that’s every athlete.

"I think it should be awareness for every athlete to have that issue because it's a huge thing to be protective of. If you're not protective of your mental [state], you're not going to do anything physical.

"There's nothing wrong with that. Any athlete would say take your time, relax, get your mental right come back when you're going to be ready. Every athlete would say that."

Simone Biles has pulled out of Monday's floor final at the Tokyo Olympics, USA Gymnastics has announced.

There remains the possibility of the American gymnastics superstar competing in the beam event on Tuesday, yet that must also be in doubt.

Biles, who won four gold medals at the Rio Olympics five years ago, was expected to be a star of Japan's Games too.

However, she was involved in just one rotation of Tuesday's women's team final, in which she registered the lowest score, before sitting out the rest of that event.

It was later confirmed the 24-year-old would not defend the individual all-around title in order to focus on her mental health.

Biles then withdrew from the finals of the vault and uneven bars, and now she will be conspicuous by her absence again.

USA Gymnastics said in a statement: "Simone has withdrawn from the event final for floor and will make a decision on beam later this week. Either way, we're all behind you, Simone."

Biles posted on Instagram that she has "the best friends/support system", accompanying the message with a picture of herself alongside a friend from home, Kevin Waterman.

Waterman paid tribute to Biles with a message describing her as a "trailblazing, kick-ass inspiration".

He wrote: "A fortunate few get to see the real you and the genuine compassion, selflessness, and kindness you have. You've been there for me during some of my most vulnerable moments and because of that, you'll see me at my strongest. To put your own health and well being first shows true strength, growth, and self care. You’re the definition of leading by example.

"Thank you. Thank you for being you, for staying true to yourself, for always being there, and for setting a better example than any medal ever could. You continue to be a barrier breaking, odd defying, trailblazing, kick-ass inspiration. The love I have for you is endless and I'll forever be thankful for your friendship. Through thick and thin, I'll always have your back!"

Simone Biles has pulled out of two further events at Tokyo 2020, USA Gymnastics has confirmed.

The American superstar was involved in just one rotation of Tuesday's women's team final, in which she registered the lowest score, before sitting out the rest of the event.

It was later confirmed she would also not defend the individual all-around title she won at Rio 2016 in order to focus on her mental health.

On Saturday, USA Gymnastics confirmed Biles – a four-time gold medallist at Rio – will now not take her place in the finals of the vault and uneven bars, with further decisions to be taken on her participation in the floor and balance beam finals.

A statement from the governing body read: "After further consultation with medical staff, Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the event finals for vault and the uneven bars. She will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether to compete in the finals for floor exercise and balance beam.

"We remain in awe of Simone, who continues to handle this situation with courage and grace, and all of the athletes who have stepped up during these unexpected circumstances."

Earlier this week, Biles took to Instagram to explain how her body and mind are "simply not in sync" and attempted to describe the different aspects that go into performing at the highest level when dealing with a mental block.

"For anyone saying I quit, I didn't quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync as you can see here," Biles wrote on her story. "I don't think you realise how dangerous this is on a hard/competition surface. Nor do I have to explain why I put health first. Physical health is mental health.

"It's honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your mind [and] body in sync.

"Literally cannot tell up from down. It's the craziest feeling ever, not having an inch of control over your body."

USA Gymnastics said MyKayla Skinner, who had the fourth highest score in qualification, will compete in the vault finals alongside Jade Carey.

Simone Biles explained how her mind and body were "simply not in sync" as she discussed her withdrawal from the team and all-around gymnastics finals at the Tokyo Olympics.

The four-time gold medallist from Rio registered the lowest score of the first rotation in Tuesday's team event before leaving the arena. After returning, it was announced she would not be involved in the remainder of the competition.

Biles used her Instagram account to provide further details on her mental health on Friday, as she attempted to describe the different aspects that go into performing at the highest level when dealing with a mental block.

"For anyone saying I quit, I didn't quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync as you can see here," Biles wrote on her story. "I don't think you realise how dangerous this is on a hard/competition surface. Nor do I have to explain why I put health first. Physical health is mental health.

"It's honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your mind [and] body in sync.

"Literally cannot tell up from down. It's the craziest feeling ever, not having an inch of control over your body."

Biles initially accompanied her question-and-answer session with two videos, which she subsequently deleted, that showed her failing to perform her double twisting somersault dismount off uneven bars during training.

The multiple world champion, who said she had been practicing at an unspecified location in Tokyo, explained her struggles relating specifically around twisting.

"Sometimes I can't even fathom twisting," she continued. "I seriously cannot comprehend how to twist. Strangest and weirdest thing as well as feeling.

"What’s even scarier is since I have no idea where I am in the air, I have no idea how I'm going to land or what I’m going to land on – head/hands/feet back."

The 24-year-old has qualified for the four individual finals in Tokyo, with the vault and uneven bars taking place on Sunday, although her participation remains in doubt.

Fellow American athlete Jeff Henderson, who won gold in the long jump at Rio five years ago, insisted mental blocks are not a new phenomenon within professional sport, while also expressing his pride in Biles for speaking so openly about her situation.

"Almost every athlete [has these problems]. They just don’t speak on it," Henderson told Stats Perform.

"Every athlete goes through a mental breakdown or [has to] figure out their brain, what to do, over-thinking - that’s every athlete.

"I think it should be awareness for every athlete to have that issue because it’s a huge thing to be protective of. If you’re not protective of your mental [state], you’re not going to do anything physical.

"There's nothing wrong with that. Any athlete would say take your time, relax, get your mental right come back when you’re going to be ready. Every athlete would say that."

Sunisa Lee stepped up in the absence of Simone Biles to claim gold and maintain Team USA’s dominance in the women's gymnastics all-around event.

The 18-year-old became the sixth American woman to take the title – and fifth in a row – after beating Brazil's Rebeca Andrade and Angelina Melnikova to gold.

Despite withdrawing from the final to focus on her mental health, Biles was cheering on from the stands as her team-mate aimed to capitalise.

Lee was looking to continue her nation's impressive record in this event, which has seen triumph concurrently at both the Olympic Games and World Championships since 2010.

The teenager admitted she came close to quitting gymnastics following a difficult two years – both in and out of the gym.

Nevertheless, she duly delivered the goods by totalling 57.433 to take gold and edge out Andrade, who became the first Brazilian woman to claim an Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics.

"It feels crazy, it is so surreal. It's a dream come true," Lee said. "I don't even know what to say. It hasn't even sunk in. The past two years with COVID have been crazy. There was one point I wanted to quit. 

"To be here and to be an Olympic gold medallist is just crazy."

 

PATIENT FOX COMES GOOD

Australia's Jess Fox became the first women's canoe slalom (C1) Olympic gold medallist.

A multiple World champion, Olympic gold has eluded Fox over the years. She was a silver medallist at London in 2012, while she took home a bronze from Rio four years later.

However, her persistence finally paid off after posting a time of 105.04 seconds in the final, while Great Britain's Mallory Franklin and Andrea Herzog of Germany completed the podium.

"I can't believe it," said Fox, who also won bronze in the women's kayak earlier this week.

"I was dreaming of [a gold medal] and I really believed it was within me, but you never know what is going to happen at the Olympics.

"It is about holding your nerve and I probably didn't do that very well in the kayak a couple of days before, so it was hard to get to this point. But it has been incredible to do what I did today."

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