Simone Biles watches on as new gymnastics queen crowned at Olympics

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Simone Biles, pictured here watching on as Suni Lee claimed gold at the Olympics.
Simone Biles watched on as Suni Lee claimed gold at the Olympics. Image: Getty

Simone Biles watched on from the stands on Thursday night as Sunisa Lee won the all-around gymnastics event at the Tokyo Olympics to secure the title for the US for a fifth-straight Games.

Lee came to Tokyo thinking the best she might do was win an all-around silver, but the youngest member of the US gymnastics team grabbed the gold on Thursday after Biles dropped out of the event over mental health concerns.

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Lee, 18, claimed the gold on the final rotation - the floor exercise - for a 57.433 winning total.

"Coming into this competition I didn’t even think that I could be competing for a gold medal," said Lee. 

"I was coming to compete for a silver medal.

"I knew that I just had to stay focused. I wasn’t trying to worry about the scores at all.

"It’s crazy. It doesn’t feel like real life at all."

Brazilian 22-year-old Rebeca Andrade, who had topped the rankings most of the evening, took the silver for her country's first ever medal in women's gymnastics.

Russian Angelina Melnikova completed the podium by taking the bronze for the ROC.

Considered the heir apparent to Biles, 18-year-old Lee's moment arrived sooner than expected.

Biles, winner of every all-around competition she entered since 2013, threw the fight for the Olympic gold wide open when she decided not to defend her Rio Games all-around title.

She had already dropped out of the team event on Tuesday after one poor vault, citing the need to focus on her mental health.

“Going into this meet I feel like there was a lot of pressure on me because I have been second to her (Biles) the whole season basically," said Lee.

"So I knew that people were kind of counting on me to either get second or win the gold medal. 

"I tried not to focus on that because I knew that I would get too nervous."

Sunisa Lee, pictured here claiming gold in the women's all-around event at the Olympics.
Sunisa Lee claimed gold in the women's all-around event at the Olympics. Image: Getty

Gymnastics world erupts over Sunisa Lee's golden moment

As the gymnasts marched over to the floor for their final attempts, only 0.201 separated the top three of Lee, Andrade and 16-year-old Russian Vladislava Urazova.

Lee, the youngest member of the US team, put down a marker first with a score of 13.700, but she left the door open a crack for Andrade, the second-last to compete, to snatch the gold.

But the Brazilian, who had previously looked so poised, finally cracked by stepping out on her first tumbling run and then did so a second time, scoring 13.666, with the mistakes likely costing her the gold.

As the marks flashed on the scoreboard and Lee's victory was confirmed, her teammates in the stands leapt and cheered.

"It just means a lot to me to have all of them here cheering for me," said Lee. 

"It sucks that I can’t have Simone on the floor with me but just to even have her in the arena was very helpful because she is an inspiration to me that I look up to. 

"Having her there helped me a lot."

Her victory made Lee the first Asian-American to win individual Olympic gold in gymnastics.

The gymnastics world was left in awe over the 18-year-old Lee's performance.

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with Reuters

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