Utah's MyKayla Skinner wins surprise silver in vault

Posted at 7:17 AM, Aug 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-01 09:17:53-04

TOKYO — Earlier this week, University of Utah gymnast MyKayla Skinner was set to come home after failing to qualify for a chance to compete in a women's event final at the Tokyo Olympics.

Instead, she's now a silver medalist.

Skinner, who was put back into the vault competition after Simone Biles withdrew, won silver with a great performance Sunday. All while being cheered on by Biles in the stands.

“I knew she was going to be the loudest one in there tonight,” Skinner said.

The 24-year-old scored a a 15.033 on her first vault, and a 14.8 on her second.

Skinner had the fourth-highest score during qualifications. But the rules allow each country a maximum of two athletes in the finals. Biles and Jade Carey finished first and second, pushing Skinner from the competition.

She was devastated that her Olympics — and her gymnastics career — appeared to have ended at qualification. She was preparing to get on a plane to fly home until Biles told a Team USA coach to text Skinner and let her know to stick around.

Skinner’s road to the Olympics was not a straight line, nor was it easy.

She was an alternate on the 2016 Olympic team that won gold in Rio de Janeiro — a frustration for her because at qualifying she racked up the fourth-highest score.

She retired from elite gymnastics after that and focused on her collegiate career at the University of Utah. Competing in college made her fall in love with the sport again, she said, and so in 2019 she chose to return, driven by an intense desire to make the Olympic team for Tokyo.