By Elaine Lies
TOKYO (Reuters) -American Jade Carey produced a series of high-flying tumbling combinations to win gold on the floor exercise at the Tokyo Games on Monday, while Mai Murakami became the first Japanese woman to win an individual Olympic gymnastics medal.
The absence of 2016 floor champion Simone Biles from the final due to mental health struggles had left the field wide open and Carey made the most of her opportunity to grab gold with a score of 14.366 points.
The win allowed Carey to heal her dented pride after she finished last among the eight competitors in Monday’s vault final.
Italian Vanessa Ferrari, a world all around champion in 2006, finally got her hands on an Olympic medal at the age of 30 when she claimed silver with 14.200.
Murakami and Angelina Melnikova of the Russian Olympic committee both won bronze with identical scores of 14.166.
While Japanese men have long been a gymnastics powerhouse, Murakami gave the host nation their first Olympic medal in women’s gymnastics since they claimed a team bronze in 1964, the last time Tokyo hosted the Summer Games.
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim and Elaine Lies; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Pritha Sarkar)