NewsJade Carey

Mighty Comeback: Jade Carey Earns Floor Exercise Gold Medal

by Karen Rosen

Jade Carey poses with her gold medal at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 2, 2021 in Tokyo.

 

TOKYO – In the old Olympic scoring system, Jade Carey would have earned a perfect 10 for bouncing back.
One day after she tripped in the vault, avoiding injury to her body - but bruising her psyche - Carey moved with confidence and precision to win the gold medal in floor exercise Monday at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
“I think coming back from a day like yesterday,” Carey said, “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.”
Her father Brian, who is her coach at home and in Tokyo, and teammate Simone Biles offered the 21-year-old from Phoenix, Arizona, support and encouragement.
Brian Carey said that when he talked to his daughter Monday morning, he told her, “You might feel like yesterday was one of the worst days of your life, but today can be one of the best days of your life.”
The two-time world silver medalist on vault took that advice to heart. She said her teammates reminded her “that I’m a great vaulter and that I will come back from it.”
Carey said Biles especially helped her move on. “She just said,’ ‘It happened and you can’t do anything about it.’ She was like, ‘Let’s go out and kill floor,’ so that’s what I did.”
With Biles and her other teammates cheering loudly from the stands at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Carey gave Team USA its third straight title in floor exercise, with Aly Raisman winning in 2012 and Biles in 2016.
USA Gymnastics announced Monday afternoon that Biles would resume competition on Tuesday in the balance beam. She had withdrawn from the all-around, vault, uneven bars and floor exercise to focus on her mental health and a case of the “twisties,” which involves air awareness.
“It’s been up up in the air, but I’m really proud of her for coming back and competing beam,” Carey said. “She’s been through a lot this Olympics, so it’s going to be great to see her out there tomorrow.”
Carey had stepped in for Biles in the all-around competition, placing eighth - partly due to a fall on beam - after finishing ninth in the qualification behind Biles and eventual champion Suni Lee. She was eighth again in vault after the mishap on the entrance to her first vault.
“I tripped, I guess, in my hurdle, or right before,” Carey said. “I don’t really know. It’s kind of a blur now.”
She said it had never happened to her before. “I was very shocked at first, so it definitely was just a fluke,” Carey said.
She made the snap decision to turn a planned Cheng vault into a simple back tuck, then had to perform again. She had a big step on the landing of her Amanar.
“I’m glad that I’m safe and healthy and just doing that second vault, it was a challenge, but I didn’t want to give up,” Carey said. “I heard everyone in the stands cheering for me and that really helped.”
MyKayla Skinner won the silver medal in the event.

Jade Carey competes at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 2, 2021 in Tokyo. 

 

That meant that going into floor exercise, Carey was the only one among the six Team USA female gymnasts without a medal. 
She was second in the order, but had to wait an inordinate amount of time waiting for the first competitor’s score. 
“I was just trying to stay loose, stay moving and just keep my mind off of it,” Carey said.
Her father asked her if she wanted to come to come down off the podium, but Carey gave him a thumbs up.
She has been working on a triple twisting double layout, which would be called the Carey if she performs it in competition. It would also be the highest valued skill in men’s or women’s gymnastics.
But Carey played it safe on her first tumbling pass with a double-double, then powered through the rest of her routine to finish with a big smile.
She scored 14.366 points, which included 6.300 for difficulty and 8.066 for execution. “I’ve kind of been planning since qualifications that I was just going to do that because I’m just so comfortable with that routine,” said Carey, who had the second-highest start value in the competition after Biles. “It’s clean and I know that I can do it.”
Then she had to wait for the other six gymnasts to complete their routines to see if her score would remain the highest. “It’s definitely nerve-wracking,” she said.
At age 30, Vanessa Ferrari of Italy won the silver, which was the first women’s gymnastics medal for Italy since 1928. She scored 14.200 after narrowly missing Olympic bronze medals in 2016 and 2012.
Angelina Melnikova of the Russian Olympic Committee won her third Tokyo Olympic medal, a bronze, when she and Mai Murakami of Japan had identical scores of 14.166 (5.9 difficulty and 8.266 execution).
While most Olympians have to wait until they get home to hug their family, Brian Carey was the first to congratulate his daughter with a tight embrace.
“Having my dad here means everything to me,” Jade said. “This is all we’ve ever dreamed of and it’s just really special to be able to get this medal with him out there by my side and he’s supported me 100 percent the whole time.”
They also decided to take an unconventional road to her Olympic destiny.
Instead of coming up through the junior elite circuit, like most of the Team USA Olympian, Carey competed at the slightly lower Level 10 (also known as Junior Olympic) in 2016. One of the national team coaches witnessed her vaulting and by July 2017, she was a senior elite gymnast. She won silver medals at the 2017 world championships on vault and floor exercise.
Carey, who will compete collegiately for Oregon State, then pursued the specialist qualification route which was introduced for Tokyo and has since been dropped. The Careys traveled around the world from Australia to Azerbaijan, although the convoluted rules forced her to skip the 2018 world championships. 
Carey secured individual Olympic spots in vault and floor exercise by earning enough points at world cup events, but that came at the expense of making the four-woman U.S. Olympic team which won the silver medal.
“It was definitely hard sometimes, but I’m really glad we stuck with our decision and did what we did,” Carey said.
Her father said that the world cup circuit may have toughened Jade up for what she faced in Tokyo.
“You’re used to competing back-to-back days, multiple days in a row,” he said. “It’s a lot. I’m glad we did the series. It was good experience for her. It really helps you get ready to have things thrown at you.
“I’m just so proud of her right now. It’s awesome.”

Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020? Visit TeamUSA.org/Tokyo2020 to view the medal table, results and competition schedule.


Karen Rosen has covered every Summer and Winter Olympic Games since 1992 for newspapers, magazines and websites. Based in Atlanta, she has contributed to TeamUSA.org since 2009.
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