RIO DE JANEIRO • The Netherlands' Sanne Wevers was the surprise winner in the women's balance beam, as Simone Biles ruined her own chances of scooping a record five golds at a single Olympics.
For the first time in four events in Rio, Biles did not stand on the top step of the podium. The American's 14.733 was good enough for only bronze behind Wevers (15.466) and team-mate Laurie Hernandez (15.333) on Monday.
The beam, which dares gymnasts to perform routines of extraordinary rigour on a platform 1.2m above the ground and not much wider than a credit card, is the sport's most precarious apparatus and the double world champion fell victim to the discipline's unpredictability.
Biles, who qualified for the final with the top score, had a flawless start to her routine but slipped badly when her left foot landed on the edge of the beam and she needed to reach down and grab the apparatus to stay on.
"Honestly, the first thing I thought whenever I touched the beam was, 'Wow Simone, that was five-tenths (deduction),'" she said.
"I'm not disappointed in the medal that I received because anyone would love to have a bronze at an Olympic Games.
I JUST WANT TO DO MY THING
I think you guys want it more than I do because I just want to perform the routines that I've practised.
SIMONE BILES, American gymnast, on the media pressuring her for a five-gold haul.
"I'm disappointed in the routine that I did. Not so much the entire routine, just the front tuck, I guess, because the rest of the routine was pretty good."
After descending from the competition podium, a disappointed Biles was so certain her score would not be enough for a top-three finish that she did not change into her medal ceremony outfit until the final score had been posted.
"She is human," her long-time coach, Aimee Boorman, said.
"She made that save, because both of her feet were coming off the beam. I was pretty impressed with that. I see it as a triumph. She won a bronze medal on beam at the Olympics. That's huge. She should be proud of that."
Wevers was next and performed a routine of exquisite artistry and heightened difficulty. Shortly after sticking a perfect landing, the score of 15.466 made it official: Biles' run for a record-breaking five women's gymnastic golds at one Olympics was over.
Boorman added: "This beam final going in, we're in the back room in the warm-up gym watching everybody and everyone was amazing, just hitting and hitting and hitting and looking beautiful doing it.
"It was really anybody's race. She unfortunately had a significant error but the rest of her routine was good enough to get her a bronze."
Biles, who captured golds in the individual all-around, individual vault and team competitions before this morning's floor final, insisted the pressure of the so-called drive for five had not got to her.
"It's something you guys shove into my head and I'm 19," Biles said.
"I can't put that much stress on myself because I am only 19. I think you guys want it more than I do because I just want to perform the routines that I've practised."
The victory by the 24-year-old Wevers, the oldest Olympic champion in the discipline since Eva Bosakova in 1960, gave the Dutch their second Olympic medal in women's artistic gymnastics after their team gold at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam.
REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN