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Setbacks Didn't Stop Gymnast MyKayla Skinner From Pursuing Her Olympic Dreams

By Thea Coburn··  5 min read
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Setbacks Didn't Stop MyKayla Skinner From Pursuing Her Olympic Dreams
@mykaylaskinner2016

After being selected as an alternate for the 2016 Olympics, American gymnast MyKayla Skinner has secured her spot on the 2021 Olympic team and is set to compete in Tokyo beginning later this month.

Gymnast MyKayla Skinner put on a clinic in perseverance when she earned her spot on the 2021 USA Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team. The 24 year old from Arizona had a flourishing NCAA career before deferring her senior year to return to Elite gymnastics for a shot at the Olympics. After a strong performance at the USA Olympic Trials, MyKayla claimed one of two individual spots on the Olympic team, meaning she will compete as an individual instead of on the four-member USA team. MyKayla is eligible to qualify for all individual event finals, including the all-around final and event finals. 

MyKayla is a strong competitor with her best shot at the podium being on floor or vault. She competes with two of the most difficult vaults in the women’s competition – the Amanar and the Cheng. Combined with great execution, these scored big at the Olympic Trials. 

Joining MyKayla at the Olympics will be teammates Simone Biles, Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles, Sunisa Lee, and Grace McCallum. Funny enough, her teammates could be her biggest competition. The “two per country” rule only allows a maximum of two gymnasts from the same country to qualify for each individual event. Despite the competition, these teammates seem to be good friends, are supportive of one another, and push each other to be better.

Her Social Media Presence

MyKayla has used social media to document her gymnastics journey. She has a large social media following and a YouTube channel with 92,000 subscribers. The channel chronicles the ups and downs of Elite gymnastics, and gives fans a glimpse into what an Olympic dream really entails. Her channel includes videos of training and competition, physical therapy, and Q&As which show her life outside of gymnastics. Her husband Jonas Harmer and adorable cat Belo make frequent appearances. You’ll find lots of gymnastics related content on her Instagram, as well as lifestyle moments, cute outfits, and date nights with her husband.

Adversity Didn’t Stop MyKayla from Chasing Her Dreams

The road to Tokyo wasn’t all perfect 10s. MyKayla faced some serious adversity on her way to the Olympics. She was selected as an alternate for the 2016 Olympic Team. This was an incredible accomplishment in itself, but she wasn’t satisfied. MyKayla was committed to giving her Olympic dreams another shot, only for them to be delayed, again. 

In gymnastics, peaking at the right time is key. When the announcement was made that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics would be postponed, it left many athletes disappointed and uncertain about the state of their Olympic dream. To keep her dream alive, MyKayla had to defer her senior year of college for a second time and put her life outside of gymnastics on hold for another year. This extra year could have put an end to MyKayla’s Olympics hopes, but she persevered and used the extra year to her advantage. 

Hospitalization, Injuries, and Haters

In December 2020, MyKayla was hospitalized after contracting the coronavirus, and shortly after was diagnosed with pneumonia. This kept her out of training and competition for weeks, potentially jeopardizing her ability to compete. MyKayla talks about this setback in this video, and even mentions how she wanted to quit. Let’s just say we’re happy she didn’t. 

Hospitalization wasn’t the only thing that could have put a wrench in her Olympic hopes. She has been dealing with a foot injury that needs surgery post-Olympics. Despite her lengthy career, she has not once had surgery, which is an impressive feat for a gymnast of her caliber. She keeps the pain to a minimum with physical therapy and a whole lot of tape. 

Just like anyone else doing anything worthy of their time, MyKayla has haters. Gymnastics scores are divided into execution and difficulty, meaning that gymnasts are not only rewarded for clean routines but they’re also rewarded for difficult skills. MyKayla has been criticized for her execution, but the criticism only motivated her. 

In addition to throwing in difficult skills such as her double double dismount on bars, MyKayla has worked hard to clean her routines and improve her execution scores. She clapped back at the haters in a video titled “Rare footage of MyKayla Skinner working on execution,” (we’re thinking husband Jonas is responsible for that title) which showcases her bar skills. 

MyKayla was considered an underdog heading into the Olympic trials, but she proved her haters wrong and her supporters right. She had one of the best meets of her life, and it seemed as though she had the whole crowd behind her.

Support System

MyKayla has an amazing support system in her family and coaches. Husband Jonas is there every step of the way, whether it’s cheering his wife on at meets, filming her at training, or even getting in on the gymnastics himself! After dating for two years, the young couple got engaged in October 2019 and were married a month later. We love that marriage didn’t stop MyKayla from pursuing her gymnastics dreams, or perhaps, that her gymnastics dreams didn’t stop MyKayla from pursuing marriage. 

Beyond the Olympics

MyKayla announced in an Instagram post that she would be going pro and not returning to NCAA gymnastics. The Olympics will be her last competition before she officially retires. We look forward to cheering her on one last time! 

Closing Thoughts

MyKayla has achieved her Olympic dream, and she’s ready to put on a show in Tokyo. Just when you think she can’t get any better, she promises that “the world has yet to see my best gymnastics.” Regardless of the Olympic outcome, MyKayla is already a golden girl in our books. 

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