It’s not everyday you snag a surprise silver medal at the Olympics — but that’s exactly what MyKayla Skinner did.
Just one week ago, the Team USA gymnast thought her career was over. She even told reporters, and her Instagram followers, that she was “heartbroken” by how the Tokyo 2020 Olympics had turned out for her, but added that she was ready for whatever the future held.
Turns out, it held one more shot at an Olympic medal, courtesy of teammate Simone Biles’ decision to step down from most of her final events to protect her mental health. Her call left an opening, which Skinner stepped into for the vault final.
She ended up leaping her way to the silver medal.
“There have been so many times I’ve wanted to quit the last 2 years and throughout my entire gymnastics career,” she said on her Instagram account of the win. “I don’t think most people know how hard this sport is on your body and mind. I’m grateful I never gave up and that so many of you never gave up on me.”
Her journey has been a tough one. It included a very close, but ultimately failed bid at Team USA in 2016, a lasting bone spur in her foot, and her own battle with Covid-19. The latter landed her in the hospital for 2 weeks this past January, and lingering symptoms left her wondering “how my body was going to react, or if my endurance would go back to normal.”
But Skinner pushed through — and now, she’s got the medal to prove it. As she put it on her Instagram post, “unfinished business … FINISHED.”