MyKayla Skinner competes on the uneven bars at U.S. Women's Gymnastics Olympic Trials on July 10, 2016 in San Jose.
MyKayla Skinner, a 2016 Olympic alternate in gymnastics, is ready to give it another go.
Skinner, who has spent the past three seasons as one of the top NCAA gymnasts while competing for Utah, announced Thursday that she is taking steps to return to elite gymnastics, where if all goes as planned she’ll make a run at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, which start in roughly 15 months.
As part of this process, the 22-year-old Skinner will take part in the June national team camp, where she’ll attempt to qualify for the U.S. Classic. At that point she will determine if she wants to go all-in on Tokyo.
“While I love college gymnastics, I'd like to try and compete for my country,” Skinner said in a statement released by Utah. “I see the opportunity to pursue an Olympic berth as a chance of a lifetime. If things don't work out for whatever the reason, I plan to return to the University of Utah for my senior year.”
Skinner, a native of Gilbert, Arizona, was one of the top contenders for a spot on the “Final Five” Olympic team that won a gold medal in 2016. She had the fourth best all-around score at that year's Olympic trials and was the second-ranked vaulter at both the trials and preceding national championships.
Instead, she traveled to Rio as one of the alternates.
Since then, Skinner has established herself as a top NCAA gymnast, having won NCAA titles on floor exercise (2017) and vault (2018), while finishing as runner-up in the all-around both years. Competing at the most recent NCAA championships this past weekend, Skinner placed seventh in the all-around.
If a trip to the Olympic Games doesn’t work out Skinner, Utah coach Tom Farden said he’d keep a roster spot open for her in the fall should she decide to return, but he supports her decision to give elite gymnastics another shot.
"MyKayla is a world-class gymnast and we are supportive of her desire to test the waters of resuming her international career," Farden said.
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic Movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009, including the gymnastics national championships and Olympic trials every year since 2011, on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.