The final night of gymnastics competition in Tokyo was going to be a big one for the United States regardless of Simone Biles' status, but with Monday's news that she would return to Olympic competition in her final chance, the intrigue grew astronomically higher.
Biles, who withdrew from the final three rotations of the team final followed by her next four individual finals, is making a comeback today. One of Biles' eponymous skills is a double-twisting double backflip beam dismount, but she is expected to end today's routine with a simpler skill that doesn't require any twists, like a double pike. She was the bronze medalist on the apparatus in Rio.
Suni Lee — who already has a gold, silver and bronze medal in Tokyo — is also set to challenge for a medal on beam after finishing third in qualifications.
In the men's high bar and parallel bars finals, the U.S. men seek their first medal of the Tokyo Games.
For three-time Olympian Sam Mikulak, the parallel bars final is his last chance to win his first career Olympic medal, as he is retiring after the Games. Mikulak's highest finish so far was fourth on high bar in 2016.
On the high bar today, 2021 U.S. all-around national champion Brody Malone is set to compete and could have a shot at a medal after finishing fourth in qualifications.
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Men's Parallel Bars
The first two gymnasts to perform in the parallel bars final claimed their podium spots early. and the only competitor who was able to squeeze in between them came last on the start list.
Ferhat Arican kicked the competition off with a stuck dismount and the most difficult routine of all eight finalists. His score of 15.633 was massive and the one to beat until the very next athlete, Zou Jingyuan, hit a set that was a clinic on how to make parallel bars look effortless.
The Chinese gymnast had exquisite form and earned a 9.333 execution score that reflected just how close he got to perfection. His 16.233 is the highest score earned by any gymnast in Tokyo, and it held strong at the top of the leaderboard throughout the next six men's routines.
Germany's Lukas Dauser was the last gymnast of the final and scored a 15.700 to edge out Arican for silver. Like Zou, he maintained excellent form throughout his routine and earned a 9.0 execution score.
Arican's silver is the first-ever medal in artistic gymnastics for Turkey, and Zou's gold is China's sixth in gymnastics during these Games.
Mikulak placed sixth with a score of 15.000.
Women's Balance Beam
In her last chance to make an Olympic podium at the Tokyo Games, Biles absolutely nailed her beam routine that featured a dismount she only recently began practicing. Her typical dismount required her to complete at least a full twist while flipping backward twice, but after recently dealing with a case of the "twisties," Biles changed the skill to a double back pike that she executed to near perfection.
Guan Chenchen qualified to the event final in first place but was the last competitor of the evening. She showed some nerves at the beginning of her set but settled down to hit a gold-medal routine.
Suni Lee was solid until her flight series. She was off-center on the third element of her aerial layout step-out lay-out step-out connection but fought to stay on the beam and had a strong finish.
Men's High Bar
Kazakhstan's Milad Karimi, the first competitor on the high bar, fell off twice before finishing out his routine for an 11.266.
Nikita Nagornyy had an excellent routine with only minor errors, earning a 14.533.
American Brody Malone got out to an excellent start, but had a big break on a handstand where he ended up swinging the wrong way. But it was an otherwise strong routine with just a small step on the dismounts, enough to put him in contention to make the podium with a 14.2.
The next two athletes, Japan's Kitazono Takeru and Australia's Tyson Bull, both came off the bar.
Malone held onto the silver spot until Croatia's Tin Srbic put up a big 14.900, surpassing Nagornyy and pushing Malone to bronze — with all-around champion Hashimoto Daiki still to come.
After clinching the all-around with his high bar routine, Hashimoto delivered once again. He nailed a textbook routine, sticking a double-twisting double layout dismount for a 15.066.
The final competitor of the session, the Netherlands' Bart Deurloo, also came off the bar.