TOKYO — U.S. gymnast MyKayla Skinner has won a silver medal in the individual gymnastics final for the vault – a competition she wasn’t expecting to take part in at the Tokyo Olympics.
Skinner, 24, was tapped to compete in the vault after Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast in the world, withdrew from the competition to focus on her mental health.
“I dedicate this medal to Simone. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her,” she said. “I told her I would be doing this one for her. She said, ‘don’t do it for me, do it for yourself’, so technically it’s for all of us.”
Rebeca Andrade of Brazil took the gold medal, and Yeo Seojeong of South Korea took bronze.
“I feel so humbled to complete in the vault final, as I didn’t think it was going to happen. I’ve worked very hard, took time off from college and was an alternate in 2016,” Skinner added.
She had already given interviews talking about hanging up her leotard for the last time. She’s moving to Utah and is pursuing a degree in journalism, with the goal of being a sports broadcaster. “For me, I’m just really excited to have a life and then maybe start a family,” she told People. “We’ll just kind of see where life takes me.”
But not before two more vaults.
She executed both cleanly. The first, with a very high degree of difficulty, is known as a Cheng. The score on that vault was slightly higher than her second. She ultimately landed with a combined total score of 14.916.
Her teammate Jade Carey, 21, shook her head after a rocky first vault. She appeared to pull out of a more difficult move after she was off in the steps leading into it, and ended with a score for her first vault of 11.933. On her second vault, she was hit with a two-point penalty, and ended with a combined score of 12.416.
It was likely disappointing after qualifying for the event with a score of 15.166. Afterwards, she appeared emotional and hugged Skinner.
Later in the day, U.S. gymnast Sunisa Lee, the individual all-around champion, won bronze in the uneven bars individual final.