Jade Carey, who is not a member of the USA Gymnastics team, qualifying for the Olympics by competing in events all on her own, won gold for the United States in a beautiful and powerful floor exercise at the Tokyo Games on Monday.
Saying later that it had been “the best floor routine I’ve ever done in my life,” she shone in a red, white and blue sequined costume and ended up on top of the podium, winning the very first Olympic medal of her career.
Vanessa Ferrari of Italy won the silver and two gymnasts, Mai Murakami of Japan and Angelina Melnikova of Russia — who had already won the team gold for the Russian Olympic Committee — tied for the bronze medal.
The breakthrough gymnast of this Olympics, Rebeca Andrade of Brazil, came in fifth place.
The Phoenix, Arizona athlete gave her father, Brian, a big hug after her performance, with a relieved smile that showed the tension of the last few days — including a disappointing performance in t he vault- was over.
After tripping on her way to the vaulting horse in that competition, she could perform only one flip instead of the 2 1/2- twisting flip Yurchenko, an extremely unusual occurrence for the perfectionist, who was left in tears after that competition.
Carey admitted to reporters “Yesterday was really tough for me,” adding that it had been “a kind of a blur.”
However, undaunted, she determined that she would return to form in the next gymnastics event, the floor exercise, after a pep talk from none other than Simone Biles, who had dropped out of the team, uneven bars and vault competitions.
Biles advised Carey to “Let it go and move on. It happened and you can’t do anything about it.”
Carey acknowledged that indeed she had taken that advice, adding “For tonight, I just had to let that go.”
The US athlete had come in third in the floor exercise qualifier, behind Ferrari and Biles.
As it turned out, Carey was the US’ only hope in the event after Biles bowed out. And she was all that was needed.
Carey seemingly effortlessly pulled off a complex tumbling routine, scoring 14.366.
The young woman who has traversed the globe going to gymnastics competitions with just her father in tow in order to qualify to represent the US at Tokyo finally looked relieved and thrilled after the event was over.
Carey told reporters after the competition.”Coming back from a day like yesterday, I’m really proud of myself for being able to put that behind me and finish with probably the best floor routine I’ve ever done in my life.”