Russian Gymnast Says Team 'Didn't Waste Our Chance' After Simone Biles Withdrew From Event

Russian gymnast Viktoria Listunova said that "we knew it was possible. We did not waste our chance" after American gymnast Simon Biles had to withdraw from Olympic competition, the Associated Press reported.

The women's team's win follows a victory by the men's team in its finals. Russia, barred at the Olympics from using its name, flag or anthem because of a systemic doping scandal, swept the gymnastics team gold medals, among the most coveted at the Summer Games, the AP said.

It was the first time either team from Russia has won a gold medal at the Olympics since shortly after the Soviet Union's collapse. Both the men's and women's teams won in 1992 but failed to do so in the following decades.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Russian Team: 'We Didn't Waste Our Chance'
"We didn't waste our chance," a member of the Russian women's gymnastics team said after Simone Biles had to leave the Olympic finals. Above, Russian gold medalists Liliia Akhaimova, Angelina Melnikova, Viktoriia Listunova and Vladislava Urazova celebrate on the podium Tuesday after winning the gymnastics women's team event in Tokyo. Loic Venance/Getty Images

Angelina Melnikova, a celebrated gymnast from Russia, was gliding around the parallel bars when breaking news started rocketing around the world: her competitor, American superstar Simone Biles, was scratched from the competition.

Melnikova stuck the landing. She clenched her fists near her heart.

They weren't yet halfway through one of the most anticipated events of the Olympic Games, and the result had become a near certainty: the team from Russia would soon dethrone the Americans, who just days before seemed unbeatable.

In the end, they beat the Americans by 3.5 points, a significant margin in the sport.

Though the history books may mark Tuesday's victory with an asterisk due to Biles' early withdrawal, the Russians' dazzling performance is the result of a concerted transformation since they finished a distant second to the American team at the 2019 World Championship.

Their performance Tuesday wasn't perfect: two of them, back to back, fell off the balance beam. But they recovered and became the first team in 11 years to beat the Americans in any event.

The first sign that they could topple the American powerhouse came at qualifying Sunday. The Americans wobbled while the Russians performed closed to perfectly. They were each so good that reigning European champion Viktoria Listunova will have to sit out the all-around finals this week because two of her teammates, including Melnikova, scored higher.

Russian Team: 'We Didn't Waste Our Chance'
From right, Russian Olympic gymnasts Liliia Akhaimova, Viktoriia Listunova, Angelina Melnikova and Vladislava Urazova celebrate on Tuesday after winning the gold medal in Tokyo. Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press