Team USA gymnast MyKayla Skinner landed in the hospital this week after developing pneumonia, part of what she described as lingering problems related to COVID-19. Skinner, who served as the United States’ alternate at both the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and the 2019 World Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, posted the news on her Instagram story late Monday, 4 January.
“Life update! Jonas caught covid from a business trip a month ago and he was fine but I still have lingering problems,” Skinner’s post read. “We quarantined and I only went back to the gym when it was safe but it’s still been difficult and it turns out today I developed pneumonia.”
A day later, she posted an update on Twitter, saying she was at home recovering.
MyKayla Skinner believed she had a fairer chance of making the Olympics this time than in 2016, but that didn't alleviate any stress going into the final day of the U.S. Gymnastics Trials.
After being an Olympic alternate for the 2016 Rio Games and 2019 World Championships, Skinner's history of disappointment kept her on edge while the selection committee met following her fifth place all-around finish at trials Sunday in St. Louis.
"Things are a lot more fair than when Martha (Karolyi) was here," Skinner said Monday. "It's kind of hard to say that because for 2019 Worlds I got fourth all-around and they still put me alternate. So last night waiting back in the room, I was like it could go either way."
Instead of two automatic qualifiers after trials, Skinner would have preferred that the top four all-arounders were assured of making the U.S. team, which ultimately is what happened. That left one individual berth to be decided and no guarantee that it would go to Skinner even though she was just .300 behind fourth-place Grace McCallum.
"It was a little bit of a guessing game," Skinner said. "After they called that fourth name, I was like 'oh my gosh am I going to be the alternate again'. I was super stressed. Then they called me for the individual spot, and I was super shocked. Obviously I would have loved to be on that four-man team, but either way is super cool and I finally get to be an Olympian, which is awesome. I get to check that mark off the list."
Skinner of Gilbert/Desert Lights and Jade Carey of Phoenix/Arizona Sunrays are both going to the Tokyo Olympics, July 23-Aug. 8, as individual qualifiers with Carey earning her berth in February 2020 through the Apparatus World Cup Series.
Both can compete in all four events if they choose or concentrate on their specialties, vaulting and floor exercise, in pursuit of a medal.
Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles and McCallum will compete for the U.S. in team, pursuing a third consecutive gold medal. The U.S. women have won a medal of some sort at every Olympics since 1992 (seven in a row).
If MyKayla Skinner looks familiar to you, you're not alone: The 24-year-old served as an outspoken alternate on Team USA's gymnastics squad in the 2016 Olympics. This year, though, she'll fully compete, a lifelong dream-come-true and a thrilling development for longtime fans.
While gearing up for the trials (and now The Games), MyKayla chatted with us via email about her daily food and beverage intake. And before you ask, yes: Gymnastics icons love French fries.
Hydrating's hard, but a gal's gotta do it. "[I'm] always trying my best to stay hydrated, but it never seems good enough. I drink my 32-ounce water bottle for gym time and sometimes a bit more. Whenever I go out to eat, I drink water. So, yeah, that much. But I’m getting better since water helps with recovery." Again, if you're looking for an "Olympians! They're just like us!" moment, there's your in! Oh! But she doesn't drink any caffeine.
Keeping track of calories is not part of her regimen. In fact, she's "never thought about it!!" In fact, her meal schedules fluctuate and she doesn't try and stick to any particular breakfast-lunch-dinner schedule. When she does find herself sitting down for meals, though, she'll have a breakfast smoothie in the morning, a meal out at Rubio's for lunch, and she and her husband love making Home Chef meals for dinner.
She has (mostly) cut out gluten, though. "I used to eat whatever I wanted," she explains. "The last couple months I’ve changed my diet. I’m now gluten-free except for the weekends." And when she's not training, "pizza and ice cream or In-N-Out" are her staples, and she "[loves] French fries." [Ed. note: OK, fine, you're allowed one more "I could be an Olympic gymnast!!" joke, but you have to stop after that.]
MyKayla Skinner’s collegiate gymnastics career is over.
The Olympian announced via social media Saturday morning that she has made the decision to go pro and will not be returning to the NCAA.
The 2021 Tokyo Olympic games will be the final gymnastics competition of her career.
Disappointed MyKayla Skinner is going to the Olympics as an individual? She isn’t What MyKayla Skinner and Grace McCallum said after being named to the U.S. Olympic team Skinner wrote in an Instagram post: “Hey everyone! I am so excited to compete in Tokyo in just a few weeks and I’m grateful for all of your support. I wanted to announce I will be going pro and not returning to compete in the NCAA. The Olympics will be my last gymnastics competition before I officially retire.
“I will miss being a part of Utah Gymnastics and competing in the Huntsman Center, but there are things I want to do professionally and places my gymnastics can take me that won’t work as a college athlete, even with the recent rule change. More importantly, I am not getting any younger and my body definitely needs a rest after this last comeback.
“I have nothing but good things to say about Utah Gymnastics — the organization, the athletes, the fans, coach Tom and the staff. I will be returning to finish my degree and graduate at the U., and will forever be a Red Rock. We have the best fan base in the nation and I’m happy to now transition into being a part of it.
“As one door closes, another opens, and I’m excited for what’s ahead. For now, I am going to focus on bringing home a medal or two this summer for Team USA. I have a lot of hard work ahead and want to promise that the world has yet to see my best gymnastics.”
Skinner had previously entertained the idea of returning to Utah for her senior season, health permitting, but in the last year alone she has been hospitalized for pneumonia brought on by COVID-19, and is currently dealing with a bone spur in her ankle that aggravates her Achilles tendon, an ailment that will likely necessitate surgery following the Olympic Games.
In a statement Saturday, Utah’s head gymnastics coach Tom Farden said of Skinner’s decision: “We are over the moon that MyKayla’s lifelong dream to become an Olympian came true. I have had several conversations with her regarding her future after the Olympics and I fully support her next chapter in life. We are grateful for the commitment she showed to our program and university, and her legacy will live on forever.”
He coached MyKayla Skinner and will coach Grace McCallum and Kara Eaker. What Tom Farden thinks about his Tokyo-bound Red Rocks These Utah gymnasts are U.S. Olympians Skinner competed three years at the University of Utah and was a two-time NCAA champion and a two-time NCAA all-around runner-up. She holds the NCAA record for consecutive routines without a fall (161), and set a school record with 26 All-America selections (13 NCAA, 13 regular season).
Over the course of her time at the U., Skinner:
Earned 23 first-team All-America honors. Was an eight-time regional champion. Was a seven-time All-Pac-12 champion. Tied the Pac-12 record for most all-conference awards with 14. Holds the Pac-12 record for career Gymnast of the Week honors with 16. Racked up 111 career victories as a Red Rock, which ranks third all-time in program history.
For all of her collegiate success, though, the Olympics were always her goal.
“I know how invested she is in this goal and dream,” Farden told the Deseret News. “For her to leave the University of Utah on a hiatus and go and chase this dream and then have it get extended, only have her say, ‘I’m going to keep going ...’ I knew how much it meant to her. I knew how bad she wanted it.
“Her whole life’s ambition has been to be an Olympian, for her dream to come true,” he said, trailing off. “I talked to her after the meet and I told her, ‘You’re a natural born fighter,’ because that is who she is. She did that all through her career here so when she made that Olympic team, I wasn’t surprised. That is her. That is MyKayla. She is going to fight to the bitter end and she did.”