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Utes gymnast MyKayla Skinner announces collegiate retirement, decision to turn pro

MyKayla Skinner after competing on the uneven bars during the women's U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials Friday, June 25, 2021, in St. Louis.

MyKayla Skinner after competing on the uneven bars during the women's U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials Friday, June 25, 2021, in St. Louis. (Jeff Roberson, Associated Press)



SALT LAKE CITY β€” After finally being named an Olympian on Sunday, Utes gymnast MyKayla Skinner announced she's retiring from the sport after the Tokyo Olympics.

In a series of tweets posted Saturday morning, Skinner said she wanted to announce she was "going pro and not returning to compete in the NCAA." She added that the Olympics will "be my last gymnastics competition before I officially retire."

"I will miss being a part of Utah Gymnastics and competing in the Huntsman Center but there are things I want to do professionally and places my gymnastics can take me that won't work as a college athlete, even with the recent rule change."

Unlike in other sports, turning pro in gymnastics is more about one's ability to accept sponsorships and other business opportunities that weren't previously made available until the NCAA replaced its policy to allow athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness, or NIL, starting on July 1.

Skinner could have profited from her NIL as a collegiate athlete, but decided to focus on finishing her degree without gymnastics being a part of it. She said she'll graduate from the University of Utah and will "forever be a Red Rock."

Skinner, 24, is the oldest gymnast for Team USA this Olympics and planned to make this her last Olympics opportunity. But even during media interviews, especially when asked about her ability to profit off her NIL this fall, Skinner said she was happy for athletes now but seemed to hint at it not applying to her.

"More importantly, I am not getting any younger and my body definitely needs a rest after this last comeback," Skinner said. "I have nothing but good things to say about Utah Gymnastics- the organization, the athletes, the fans, coach Tom (Farden) and the staff."

Skinner spent three years at Utah before pausing her collegiate availability to pursue another Olympic bid. A global pandemic delayed that by a year, but she was finally named as an individual to Team USA for the upcoming Olympics.

"We are over the moon that MyKayla's lifelong dream to become an Olympian came true," Utah Gymnastics head coach Tom Farden said in a statement. "I have had several conversations with her regarding her future after the Olympics and I fully support her next chapter in life. We are grateful for the commitment she showed to our program and university, and her legacy will live on forever."

While at Utah Skinner was a two-time NCAA Champion and was an NCAA all-around runner up twice. She set a school record for 26 All-America selections and holds the NCAA record for most consecutive routines without a fall (161).

"As one door closes, another opens, and I'm excited for what's ahead," Skinner added. "For now I am going to focus on bringing home a medal or two this summer for Team USA. I have a lot of hard work ahead and want to promise that the world has yet to see my best gymnastics."

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