Simone Biles gets off to shaky start in Tokyo

Simone Biles had a rare off day on Sunday as Team USA failed to win a qualifying round for the first time since 2010 and finished second behind Russia.  

Biles was left long faced after a shaky performance which saw her penalised on both floor and vault as her team finished on 170.526, behind their rivals on 171.629.

Yet she remains on track to win six Olympic golds after successfully qualifying across all individual and team competitions, despite taking a backwards tumble after a botched dismount on the uneven bars. 

Team USA’s medal haul now stands at 10 after the swimmers bagged six in their best ever first day in an Olympic finals, putting them third in the medals table behind China and Japan. 

Golds went to sharpshooter Will Shaner, fencer Lee Kiefer and Anastasija Zolotic in taekwondo. Meanwhile, Chase Kalisz triumphed in the men’s 400-meter individual medley.

Yet the U.S. men’s basketball team suffered a shock 83-76 defeat at the hands of France on Sunday, losing at the Olympics for the first time since 2004 and for just the sixth time in the history of the tournament. 

Biles - seen competing at the Tokyo Games on Sunday - had a shaky performance Sunday. She is seen competing in the artistic gymnastics balance beam event

Biles - seen competing at the Tokyo Games on Sunday - had a shaky performance Sunday. She is seen competing in the artistic gymnastics balance beam event

Biles – seen competing at the Tokyo Games on Sunday – had a shaky performance Sunday. She is seen competing in the artistic gymnastics balance beam event

She remains on track to win six Olympic golds after successfully qualifying across all individual and team competitions, despite taking a backwards tumble after a botched dismount on the uneven bars

She remains on track to win six Olympic golds after successfully qualifying across all individual and team competitions, despite taking a backwards tumble after a botched dismount on the uneven bars

She remains on track to win six Olympic golds after successfully qualifying across all individual and team competitions, despite taking a backwards tumble after a botched dismount on the uneven bars 

Chiles was competing in a largely empty arena but even so cheers greeted her every time she began a routine

Chiles was competing in a largely empty arena but even so cheers greeted her every time she began a routine

Chiles was competing in a largely empty arena but even so cheers greeted her every time she began a routine 

Biles crosses her arms and looks dejected while waiting for her score after performing on the balance beam during the women's artistic gymnastic qualifications

Biles crosses her arms and looks dejected while waiting for her score after performing on the balance beam during the women's artistic gymnastic qualifications

Biles crosses her arms and looks dejected while waiting for her score after performing on the balance beam during the women’s artistic gymnastic qualifications

Olympics shocker as France beat Team USA men’s basketball team 83-76 in opening game 

The U.S. men’s basketball team suffered a shock 83-76 defeat at the hands of France on Sunday, losing at the Olympics for the first time since 2004 and for just the sixth time in the history of the tournament.

The French had upset the U.S. men when they last met in the 2019 FIBA World Cup quarter-finals and they had their number again on the first day of group play at the Saitama Super Arena, powered by a game-high 28 points from Evan Fournier.

The U.S. had won 25 consecutive Olympic games, last losing at the Athens Games 17 years ago and settling for a bronze medal there. 

‘I think that´s a little bit of hubris if you think the Americans are supposed to just roll out the balls and win,’ U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said. ‘We´ve got to work for it just like everybody else. And for those 40 minutes, they played better than we did.’ 

The loss doesn´t knock the U.S. out of medal contention, but it essentially eliminates the margin for error. The Americans play Iran on Wednesday and then the Czech Republic on Saturday in its final two Group A games; win both of those, and the U.S. will be in the quarterfinals. Lose another one, and the Americans might not even finish in the top eight of this 12-team tournament.  

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Tom Foster, the women’s gymnastic team’s high performance team co-ordinator said of his squad’s performance: ‘We had great performances today and some not so great ones.

‘The errors we made were, I think, mental as the girls have been training incredibly well. We have some time to work on things before finals.’

Asked if the team been too sure of beating all challengers with Biles in the team, he replied: I don’t think it was over confidence – no.

‘It will all work out. All the athletes want to win medals. Nobody comes here and doesn’t want to win. So of course we want to win.

‘It is what it is. Sometimes just like in any other sport, great athletes drop the ball… it happens.

‘This was not the finals, this was getting into the finals so this might be a great awakening for us and we will take advantage of it.’ 

Already regarded as one of the sport’s all-time greats, Biles arrived in Tokyo targeting a record haul, including beating the mark of five gold medals at a single Olympics by a woman gymnast.

The 24-year-old was expected to launch an all-out assault on the podium and record books in Tokyo.

Biles will have a packed program in Tokyo leading the U.S. defence of their team title and her all-around crown while qualifying for the finals in the balance beam, asymmetric bars, vault and floor exercise.

With no spectators allowed inside the Ariake Gymnastics Centre due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was very much a business-like effort by Biles and her American team mates. However, it was far from business as usual with a resurgent Russian team firing a warning shot.

With no spectators allowed inside the Ariake Gymnastics Centre due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was very much a business-like effort by Biles and her American team mates

With no spectators allowed inside the Ariake Gymnastics Centre due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was very much a business-like effort by Biles and her American team mates

With no spectators allowed inside the Ariake Gymnastics Centre due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was very much a business-like effort by Biles and her American team mates

Even without the presence of thousands of screaming fans, the spotlight in a near empty arena seldom strayed from Biles, who was the focus of attention each time she stepped up to a piece of equipment

Even without the presence of thousands of screaming fans, the spotlight in a near empty arena seldom strayed from Biles, who was the focus of attention each time she stepped up to a piece of equipment

Even without the presence of thousands of screaming fans, the spotlight in a near empty arena seldom strayed from Biles, who was the focus of attention each time she stepped up to a piece of equipment

Biles tilts her head back in frustration during Sunday's shaky performance during the Tokyo Olympic games

Biles tilts her head back in frustration during Sunday's shaky performance during the Tokyo Olympic games

Biles tilts her head back in frustration during Sunday’s shaky performance during the Tokyo Olympic games 

Biles's marks were still enough to but her top the all-around on 57.731 just ahead of team mate Sunisa Lee with 57.166

Biles's marks were still enough to but her top the all-around on 57.731 just ahead of team mate Sunisa Lee with 57.166

Biles’s marks were still enough to but her top the all-around on 57.731 just ahead of team mate Sunisa Lee with 57.166

Russia, competing in Tokyo as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) because the country was stripped of its flag and anthem for doping offences, have not won the women’s team title since the United Team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics but leads with a mark of 171.629, more than a full point clear of the U.S. with 170.562.

The U.S. has won the team event in every Olympics and world championship since 2011.

Even without the presence of thousands of screaming fans, the spotlight in a near empty arena seldom strayed from Biles, who was the focus of attention each time she stepped up to a piece of equipment.

Biles finished with the top mark in the vault but could not find her best form on the beam and uneven bars

Biles finished with the top mark in the vault but could not find her best form on the beam and uneven bars

Biles finished with the top mark in the vault but could not find her best form on the beam and uneven bars

Biles looked dejected while waiting for her results to come through

Biles looked dejected while waiting for her results to come through

Biles looked dejected while waiting for her results to come through

Biles looked dejected while waiting for her results to come through

Biles looked dejected while waiting for her results to come through in a rare off day for the gymnastics star 

Biles - seen walking out of the arena - finished with the top mark in the vault but could not find her best form on the beam and uneven bars

Biles - seen walking out of the arena - finished with the top mark in the vault but could not find her best form on the beam and uneven bars

Biles – seen walking out of the arena – finished with the top mark in the vault but could not find her best form on the beam and uneven bars

With zero energy in the building, Biles got the competition off to a flat start by flying off the mat with both feet at the end of one tumbling pass during her floor exercise

With zero energy in the building, Biles got the competition off to a flat start by flying off the mat with both feet at the end of one tumbling pass during her floor exercise

With zero energy in the building, Biles got the competition off to a flat start by flying off the mat with both feet at the end of one tumbling pass during her floor exercise

Biles, of United States, performs on the uneven bars during women's artistic gymnastic qualifications at the 2020 Summer Olympics

Biles, of United States, performs on the uneven bars during women's artistic gymnastic qualifications at the 2020 Summer Olympics

Biles, of United States, performs on the uneven bars during women’s artistic gymnastic qualifications at the 2020 Summer Olympics

With zero energy in the building, Biles got the competition off to a flat start by flying off the mat with both feet at the end of one tumbling pass during her floor exercise.

But such was the degree of difficulty of her routine, that even with the big error she still earned the second highest score on the apparatus, behind only Vanessa Ferrari of Italy.

She finished with the top mark in the vault but could not find her best form on the beam and uneven bars.

GOLD, fencing: Lee Kiefer screamed as she took her helmet off after winning the women's foil individual qualifying bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

GOLD, fencing: Lee Kiefer screamed as she took her helmet off after winning the women's foil individual qualifying bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

GOLD, fencing: Lee Kiefer screamed as she took her helmet off after winning the women’s foil individual qualifying bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

GOLD, sharpshooting: American sharpshooter William Shaner struck gold in the men's 10-metre rifle event Sunday with an Olympic record of 251.6

GOLD, sharpshooting: American sharpshooter William Shaner struck gold in the men's 10-metre rifle event Sunday with an Olympic record of 251.6

GOLD, sharpshooting: American sharpshooter William Shaner struck gold in the men’s 10-metre rifle event Sunday with an Olympic record of 251.6

GOLD, taekwondo: Gold medalist Anastasija Zolotic of Team United States, poses o for the Women's -57kg Taekwondo Gold Medal contest on day two of the Olympics

GOLD, taekwondo: Gold medalist Anastasija Zolotic of Team United States, poses o for the Women's -57kg Taekwondo Gold Medal contest on day two of the Olympics

GOLD, taekwondo: Gold medalist Anastasija Zolotic of Team United States, poses o for the Women’s -57kg Taekwondo Gold Medal contest on day two of the Olympics 

GOLD, men's 400m individual medley: Chase Kalisz triumphed in the men's event on a spectacular day for America's swimmers

GOLD, men's 400m individual medley: Chase Kalisz triumphed in the men's event on a spectacular day for America's swimmers

GOLD, men’s 400m individual medley: Chase Kalisz triumphed in the men’s event on a spectacular day for America’s swimmers 

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