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Gymnastics-Pep talk from Biles helps Carey power to gold

TOKYO (Reuters) – Twenty four hours after Jade Carey finished last in the women’s vault final at the Tokyo Olympics, the American gymnast tumbled her way to gold on the floor exercise while being roared on by cheerleader-in-chief Simone Biles.

The unexpected absence of Biles from the floor final had paved the way for a new champion to be crowned in Tokyo and thanks to some uplifting pep talk from the 2016 Olympic gold medallist, Carey powered her way to the top of the podium to ensure that the top prize did not leave American hands.

“Simone especially was just like helping me let it (the vault) go and move on,” Carey told reporters after beating Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari with a winning score of 14.366.

“She just said ‘You know, it happened, and you can’t do anything about it’, and she was just like, ‘Let’s go out and kill floor’. So that’s what I did.”

The absence of Biles from the first four individual finals — all-around, vault, asymmetric bars and floor exercise — in Tokyo has dominated the Games after she shocked the world by abruptly pulling out of the team competition having performed just one vault.

The 24-year-old, who had been expected to improve on her haul of four golds and a bronze from Rio, made the decision to protect her mental health but will be returning on Tuesday to compete on the balance beam.

However, Biles has been a notable presence in the bleachers at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre whenever her compatriots perform, clapping and shouting in support.

By taking gold, Carey guaranteed that all the women on the U.S. team – the four in the team competition plus herself and MyKayla Skinner who appeared in individual finals, will go home with medals.

All-around champion Sunisa Lee, who has already won three medals in Tokyo, and Biles will be looking to increase that haul on Tuesday.

Carey said she will be there in the stands cheering on Lee and Biles, who will be looking to improve on the bronze she won on beam in Rio.

“I’m really proud of her (Biles) for coming back,” she said. “She’s been through a lot this Olympics so I’m really proud and happy to see her going after beam tomorrow.”

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