Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Biles withdraws from two finals, Ledecky and Dressel light up the pool

Biles withdraws from two finals, Ledecky and Dressel light up the pool

TOKYO (Reuters) – US gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from two more finals in Tokyo on Saturday, leaving it unclear whether she will make another appearance at the Games, while swimmers Katie Ledecky and Caleb Dressel recovered some lost lustre for America in the pool.

In the first failed drug test of the Games, Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare was provisionally suspended after a positive test for human growth hormone ended her Tokyo run.

American BMX racer Connor Fields was moved out of intensive care after suffering a brain bleed during his horrific crash a day earlier. Originally one of the big favourites for gold, Fields went down hard in a first-corner crash during the semi-finals.

China now tops the medal tally with 20 gold. Japan has 17 and the United States is at 16.

The Games are being held without spectators and after a year delay because of the pandemic, an unprecedented turn in the history of the modern Olympics. There is growing concern in Japan as infections spike, forcing the government to extend a state of emergency in Tokyo and expand it to neighbouring prefectures.

Much of the focus at the Games has been on superstar Biles, who this week stunned the world when she dropped out of the team competition after a poor opening vault and then declined to defend her all-around crown, citing concern for her mental and physical well-being.

"Today, after further consultation with medical staff, Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the event finals for vault and the uneven bars," USA Gymnastics said, adding she would continue to be evaluated daily to see whether she would compete in the finals for the floor exercise and balance beam.

Her candour has pushed the issue of athlete mental health into the spotlight and triggered an outpouring of global support. She has spoken about the "twisties", incidents of disorientation, during some of her gravity-defying skills.

"It's honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your mind & body in sync," Biles wrote on Instagram on Friday.


In swimming, Ledecky and Dressel added to their medal haul and taking some sting off what has been a disappointing Games so far for the US swim team, whose eight golds are just half their tally from Rio.

Ledecky, who lost her 200 and 400 metre titles to Australia's Ariarne Titmus before beating her in the 1,500, on Saturday became the first female swimmer to win six individual golds, cruising home in the 800 metre.