Brutal end to gymnast champion Douglas' Rio dream

Simone Biles lead a US 1-2-3 in the all-around ahead of teammates Aly Raisman, 22, and Gabby Douglas, 20, but the two-per-country rule means that the latter will not be able to defend her title on Thursday.

Gabby Douglas' dream of defending her Olympic all-around title crashed despite qualifying third.   -  Getty Images

Gabby Douglas's bid to defend her Olympic all-around title ended brutally on Sunday as the American star failed to advance to the final despite finishing third in qualifying.

Simone Biles lead a US 1-2-3 in the all-around ahead of teammates Aly Raisman, 22, and Douglas, 20, but the two-per-country rule means that the latter will not be able to defend her title on Thursday.

Douglas finished just 0.476 behind Raisman -- both member's of the 2012 London gold-medal winning US team.

"It's very hard and it's very tough, gymnastics is kind of brutal," said Douglas, who four years ago became the first African-American to win all-around gold.

She was aiming to become only the third woman to successfully defend the Olympic all-around title.

"I would have loved to go out there and defend my title, but right now I'm just rejoicing," said Douglas, as the dominant United States topped China in qualifying for Tuesday's team final by nearly 10 points.

Nevertheless, Douglas looked dejected in the Rio Olympic Arena going into her final beam rotation knowing she had already lost her crown despite nailing all her routines.

"I really wanted to finish with a good note and not be like 'Whatever, whatever'," she admitted, although she qualified for the finals on uneven bars.

"I just wanted to go out there and just really hit the best beam that I could. But I'm not disappointed because there's nothing to be ashamed about. I have no regrets for the most part."

Douglas became an overnight idol after her Olympic successes with big sponsorship deals, television appearances, an autobiography -- "Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith" -- followed by a Lifetime biopic, "The Gabby Douglas Story".

She took time off after the London Games with Biles stepping up to dominate women's gymnastics, winning three consecutive all-around world titles.

Douglas came back and took silver behind Biles at the worlds last year and became the first reigning champion to return to the next Games since Nadia Comaneci in 1980 after being controversially selected despite struggling in the US trials.

"I really wasn't trying to prove anyone wrong," she said, "I just wanted to go out there, believe in my abilities and use the talent I was given.

"I wasn't concerned with anything else. I wanted to go out there and have fun."

She believes she has repaid US gymnastics national team coordinator Marta Karolyi's faith in her ability.

"It feels really good. She was hugging us after the competition. I almost wanted to cry because she was crying."

Raisman had sympathy for her teammate after she also suffered heartbreak in London finishing off the podium following a tie-break for third in the all-around final.

"I hate the two-per-country rule," she said, "It's really hard because I think all five of us could make the all-around final. It's the top 24 gymnasts. I wish they would change it, but I don't think they ever will.

"That's the rules and you have to respect their decision, but it is heartbreaking."