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Tuesday Could Be A Dramatic – And Pivotal – Day For America's Gold Medal Hopes

Two U.S. women's teams will compete for gold early Tuesday, as the gymnastics and softball squads try to put their mark on the Tokyo Olympics. They headline a busy day for Team USA. Here's a quick guide to what could be a dramatic day in Tokyo:

Gymnastics women's team final, 6:30 a.m. ET

Simone Biles leads the U.S. team into a showdown with Russia, which finished first in qualifying on Sunday. The U.S. women's team remains the heavy favorite to win their third consecutive Olympic gold. Luckily, the results from the relatively lackluster qualifying round won't carry over to Tuesday. But the Americans were left with more questions than answers Sunday, after failing to seize first place. The U.S. will start on the vault, paired for the rotations with the Russian women — who hope to emulate the team gold won by their men's team on Monday. China and France are in the following rotation, as the third- and fourth-place qualifiers. Biles turned in scores Sunday any other gymnast would love to see. But uncharacteristic stumbles brought her down to near-human levels. [I]t wasn't an easy day or my best but I got through it. I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times," Biles said, acknowledging the pressure she faces."I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn't affect me but damn sometimes it's hard hahaha! The olympics is no joke!" she said on Instagram.

Softball final, 7 a.m. ET

The U.S. softball team will play Japan in the gold medal game. The American women are undefeated in these Olympics. To win gold, they'll have to beat Japan for the second time. The U.S. softball team narrowly beat the hosts on Sunday, 2-1. The squad has found ways to win tense, exciting games, including walk-off hits against both Australia and Japan (a double and a home run, respectively). Japan, which won the last softball gold medal before the Olympics dropped the sport in 2008, had been unbeaten before falling to the U.S. The Americans have a potent bat in Haylie McCleney, who owns a gaudy .643 batting average after five games. But Japan counters with two powerful sluggers in Yamato Fujita and Yu Yamamoto, both of whom have slugging percentages of 1.000 and lead all players in home runs. The U.S. also has two lights-out pitchers — Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman — who have posted 0.000 ERAs in Japan. Also high on the stat sheets are Japanese pitchers Miu Goto and Yukiko Ueno, both of whom have recorded 21 strikeouts.

And also: women's soccer, 4 a.m. ET

The U.S. women's national team faces Australia in Tokyo's Ibaraki Kashima Stadium in group play, as Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and their teammates look to put more distance between themselves and their upset loss to Sweden last week.Australia is ranked 9th in the world, according to the latest FIFA rankings.The U.S. got a vital win over the weekend, bouncing back from their Swedish trouncing to beat New Zealand 6-1. Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.