Sadly, it looks like MyKayla Skinner’s Olympic journey and gymnastics career has come to an abrupt end.
The 24-year-old gymnast and oldest member of the United States’ women’s team competed as an Olympian for the first time on Sunday, July 25. She participated in the qualifying round at the Tokyo Olympics as an individual competitor rather than in a team event. To be able to continue in the Games, she had to finish in the top eight overall and be one of the top two U.S. gymnasts. She placed 10th.
MyKayla was seen crying as she received her scores, ESPN reported. As a result of the strict COVID-19 protocols in Japan, the gymnast—who actually contracted the coronavirus earlier this year—must leave the country within 48 hours of the meet and will not be allowed to cheer on her teammates from the stands as they continue their Olympic journey, the network said.
“Heart broken,” MyKayla wrote on Twitter, “but feeling sooo humbled and blessed for the amazing performance I had tonight! You have all brought me to tears thanks for being my biggest cheerleaders! Love u all [kiss emoji] xoxo myk.”
She added, “#NeverGiveUp.”
For MyKayla, a University of Utah athlete who was ranked fifth among the six members of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, the road to the Tokyo Olympics was long and difficult. The Gilbert, Ariz. native was not chosen to compete in the 2012 Olympic trials. In 2016, she was made an alternate for the Rio Olympics but was not given an official spot on the U.S. team.
In addition, she also suffered health problems over the past few months. Last December, MyKayla injured her Achilles. A month later, she contracted COVID-19 and later was hospitalized with coronavirus-related pneumonia.
Earlier this month, MyKayla announced on Instagram, “The Olympics will be my last gymnastics competition before I officially retire.”
She added that while she would no longer compete as a college athlete, she planned on returning to the University of Utah to finish her degree.
There is a small chance that MyKayla’s Olympic dream could continue. If one of her teammates is unable to compete in a final, she could take her place.
The U.S. women’s gymnastics team’s performance fell short of meeting expectations overall on Sunday. They finished second at the team event, losing to Russia, after coming on top in every Olympics and world championship for the past decade.
Fellow Team USA member Simone Biles, a five-time world champion and one of the greatest gymnasts of all time, also showed disappointment with her own effort at the qualifying event but made the cut. The 24-year-old athlete will still get a chance to win six gold medals at the women’s gymnastics team final on Tuesday, July 27. She expressed support for MyKayla, who is three months older than her, after Sunday’s event.
“So proud of this one,” Simone wrote on her Instagram Story, alongside a photo of the two hugging. “No one understands the hardwork and dedication it takes to come back from collegiate gymnastics & make an Olympic team. You did the damn thing! Thanks for reminding us that grandma’s can do it too! Thanks for keeping gym light hearted and fun! I love you Ms. Olympian.”
MyKayla responded, “Couldn’t have asked for a better grandma to train with the last two years. Thanks for pushing me and supporting me through it all. I love you sooo dang much! OG’s for life!! Now go do your thang GOAT.”
Other Olympic gymnasts also expressed support for MyKayla.
“MyKayla, you made an entire team, nation, and many many generations SO proud,” tweeted retired U.S. gymnast and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin. You are forever an OLYMPIAN.”
Dominique Moceanu, who won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics, wrote on Twitter, “You embodied the Olympic spirit as you represented yourself & Team USA Flag of United States with resolve & passion.”
The 39-year-old added, “We’ve been inspired by your Olympic journey! Take a bow!”