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Simone Biles makes stunning withdrawal; U.S. women’s gymnastics takes silver

American gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the team and individual all-around finals during the first week of the Tokyo Olympics. (Video: Allie Caren/The Washington Post)

TOKYO — When Simone Biles soars through the air, her skills flow in an effortless rhythm that makes the extraordinary seem simple. She has been superhumanly dominant for nearly a decade, with a load of pressure and expectations always resting on her shoulders. But as Biles pushed off the vaulting table Tuesday night, her first flight of the evening, a peculiar sight emerged: She looked lost and shaken as she flipped and twisted, unable to perform the skill she intended.

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So Biles did the unthinkable: She stepped away from the meet and her role in her country’s quest for another Olympic gold medal in the women’s gymnastics team competition.

After her unusual vault, Biles scurried out of the arena with a medical staffer by her side. She said she realized she wasn’t in “the right head space.” When Biles returned to the competition floor, she pulled her sweatsuit over her leotard and hugged her three teammates, who suddenly became aware they would have to compete without her.

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The Tokyo Olympics have come to a close.

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