U.S. gymnast Jade Carey went from tears of sadness to tears of joy in a 24-hour span after she rebounded from a disappointing showing in the vault to bring home her first gold medal by winning the floor exercise in Tokyo on Monday.
The 21-year-old from Phoenix scored a 14.366 to top Italy's Vanessa Ferrari (14.200) and bring home the gold, with Japan's Mai Murakami and the Russian Olympic Committee's Angelina Melnikova tying for the bronze.
"It means everything to me," Carey told TODAY's Hoda Kotb after her win. "This is all I've ever dreamed of and all I've ever worked for, and I'm really glad it paid off tonight."
Carey's victory made her the second U.S. gymnast to capture gold in an individual competition in Tokyo on the heels of Suni Lee's standout performance to win the all-around last week.
She also showed the heart of a champion by rebounding from a rough showing in Sunday's vault finals, where she was expected to be a medal contender.
"Last night was definitely hard for me, but I just had to remember that I wasn't done yet and we still had floor, so I needed to put it behind me and give everything I could into floor," she told Hoda.
She stumbled during the run-up on her first vault and only managed to tuck off the table instead of the 2½ twists in the air and one flip that she'd planned on, leaving her emotional as teammates tried to comfort her. She also was unable to cleanly land either of her vaults, ending up in eighth place.
Carey was also consoled by her father, Brian, who is her coach. He has been there in person in Tokyo, where no spectators are allowed due to pandemic restrictions.
The two then shared a joyous hug on Monday after she brought home the gold.
"He said, 'You did it, you're an Olympic champ,' and then I almost started crying," Carey told Hoda. "I think I did cry actually."
The defending Olympic champion in the floor exercise, Carey's teammate Simone Biles, elected not to participate in the competition.
Biles, who announced Monday that she plans to compete in Tuesday's balance beam finals, her only individual event in Tokyo, cheered Carey on from the sidelines during her gold medal performance. Carey told reporters afterward that Biles gave her a pep talk that helped her rebound from the disappointment in the vault.