Mykayla Skinner poses with the silver medal on the podium for the women's vault at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 1, 2021 in Tokyo.
TOKYO — The flight was booked. MyKayla Skinner was flying home to Arizona on Wednesday. On Sunday, she won an Olympic silver medal instead.
In a career with more twists and turns than her Amanar vault, what’s one more?
After getting the call on Saturday that she’d be elevated into today’s women’s vault final, Skinner nailed two difficult vaults on Sunday to walk off her gymnastics career with her long sought after Olympic medal. Her two-vault average score of 14.916 placed her second behind Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade, who scored 15.083. Yeo Seojeong of South Korea won the bronze medal with 14.733.
Her medal highlighted the first of three days of individual event finals at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre. Suni Lee, coming off the all-around gold medal on Thursday, won a bronze medal on uneven bars. On the men’s side, Yul Moldauer took sixth on floor exercise, while Alec Yoder ended in the same position on pommel horse. Jade Carey, also competing in the women’s vault final, finished eighth.
“Kind of crazy,” Skinner said afterward. “I was actually gonna get on a plane to go home. I wasn’t expecting any of this to happen.”
The same could be said for much of her last five years.
From Olympic alternate to NCAA champ and then back to elite gymnastics at 22.
Then the Olympics were postponed. Then she got COVID-19. Then she had the meet of her life at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
After all that, Skinner at age 24 finally made an Olympic team. Only she didn’t make the four-person team, but rather she was selected for a new individual spot.
Nonetheless, she arrived in Tokyo and nailed it again in the qualification round, finishing with the 11th best all-around score and fourth best vault score.
Did you think the twists were over?
Thanks to a rule at international gymnastics championships that limits countries to two entries per final, Skinner was “two-per-countried” out of the Olympics after just one day. Hence, with organizers not wanting athletes to stick around too long due to COVID-19, Skinner got her flight and was ready to go home.
“I kind of had my mindset like, I’m done and ready to move on,” said Skinner, who is from Gilbert, Arizona. “After prelims it was very devastating, it took me two days to be like I’m good, I got this, I did my best.”