Team USA gymnast MyKayla Skinner won a silver medal in the individual gymnastics final for the vault— a competition she wasn’t expecting to take part in until Simone Biles removed herself.
MyKayla Skinner, 24, was asked to compete in the vault after Biles, the fan-favorite pegged to bring home several gold medals, withdrew to focus on her mental health.
“I dedicate this medal to Simone.” She added, “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her. I told her I would be doing this one for her. She said, ‘don’t do it for me, do it for yourself’, so technically it’s for all of us.”
Rebeca Andrade of Brazil took the gold medal, and Yeo Seojeong of South Korea took bronze.
“I feel so humbled to compete in the vault final, as I didn’t think it was going to happen. I’ve worked very hard, took time off from college and was an alternate in 2016,” the 24-year-old added.
As for MyKayla Skinner’s future, it looks like this may have been her last bout at the Olympics. She’s reportedly moving to Utah to pursue a degree in journalism to become a sports broadcaster.
MyKayla Skinner Dedicates Silver Medal to Simone Biles
“For me, I’m just really excited to have a life and then maybe start a family,” she told People. “We’ll just kind of see where life takes me.”
However, things looked much more somber for MyKayla Skinner this time last week. Skinner was under the impression that her Olympic dreams were over.
Despite qualifying fourth in the world on vault, she ranked third among the Americans, making her ineligible to compete in the individual final due to the two-gymnast per country rule. For Skinner, she was accustomed to the bad news. She was an alternate at the 2016 Games but never competed.
Then, one week later, she found herself vaulting to second place. “I was actually going to get on a plane to go home,” Skinner said. She added, “I wasn’t expecting any of this to happen. I was like [my teammates] are going to be fine, they are going to be good.”
Biles initially removed herself from the team event last Tuesday and told her team to ask Skinner to stay, because her team might need her on vault.
“Simone was like, ‘Text MyKayla and tell her not to go home in case she has to step in,’” Skinner said. “She was on it like that.”
After competing, MyKayla Skinner received a 15.033 (6.0 difficulty, 9.033 execution) on the Cheng and then a 14.800 (5.8 difficulty, 9.000 execution) on the Amanar to take an early lead. She then had to wait out the other eight gymnasts to find out if it would be enough for the judges,
That included teammate Jade Carey, who, with Biles out, was the highest qualifying gymnast on the roster. She stumbled on her run to the vault.