History-seeking Biles makes flawed entrance at Tokyo Games

On the floor, Biles over-rotated after one series of mesmerising tumbles and went off the mat, drawing a gasp from at least one onlooker in the near-deserted Ariake Centre.

American gymnastics superstar Simone Biles at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games. Picture: Twitter/@TeamUSA

TOKYO – American gymnastics superstar Simone Biles got off to a shaky start in her quest for five gold medals and Olympic history in Tokyo on Sunday.

The 24-year-old can level Soviet great Larisa Latynina's record of nine gymnastics gold medals, but her qualifying performances were peppered with rare imperfections.

On the floor, Biles over-rotated after one series of mesmerising tumbles and went off the mat, drawing a gasp from at least one onlooker in the near-deserted Ariake Centre.

She rolled her eyes after another unsteady landing over on the vault, and had her performance director Tom Forster shaking his head in disbelief after a shaky end to her beam routine.

"Simone took three big steps on the beam dismount, I've never seen her do that before," said Forster.

With one of the five qualifying groups still to go Biles was provisionally atop the all-around and vault, and was second on the floor with the USA occupying the same position behind the Russians for Tuesday's team final.

But in the beam standings she paid for her flawed ending to lie sixth of the eight progressing.

Biles was also sixth and hanging on for a ticket to the uneven bars final, which she missed at Rio 2016.

And while there were many moments of dazzling Biles brilliance, Forster was thankful this was only qualifying.

"We're going to be okay... this is not the finals, this is getting into the finals, this might be a great awakening for us," he said.

He said there was work to do "mostly fixing steps on the floor. Staying in bounds would help".

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