2nd chances: MyKayla Skinner to replace Simone Biles in vault final Sunday

Simone Biles, of the United States, right, poses for pictures with teammate MyKayla Skinner, after an artistic gymnastics practice session at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (Gregory Bull, Associated Press)



SALT LAKE CITY — After only one day of competition in the Tokyo Olympics, MyKayla Skinner was out.

The former Red Rock placed fourth overall on vault, her specialty and one in which she was expected to compete for a medal, in the qualifying meet of the Olympics. But she did not advance due to a gymnastics rule that only allows the top two gymnasts from a country to advance. For Team USA, those two were Simone Biles and Jade Carey on vault.

The missed opportunity left Skinner "heartbroken," but she later said she was happy to just be on the floor competing as an Olympian.

After seeing her Olympic dream come to a screeching halt just a few days earlier, Skinner announced Friday she will have another chance to compete. She'll replace Biles in the vault final on Sunday after Biles dropped out of the competition to focus on her mental health.

Biles pulled out of the team final Tuesday after an unintentionally modified vault routine left her feeling like she couldn't compete at her highest level. Instead, Biles said she needed to focus on her mental health. Team USA went on to earn the silver medal, and the Russian Olympic Committee claimed the gold with a 3.5-point higher score than the Americans.

Early Wednesday, USA Gymnastics announced Biles had pulled out of the all-around final, too, and that Carey would replace her as the next highest American athlete in the qualifying meet. Biles was evaluated daily to determine whether she'd continue with the individual events but decided on Friday that she would also withdraw from the vault final, which will be held on Aug. 1 at 2:45 a.m. MDT, and uneven bars final.

"Today, after further consultation with medical staff, Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the event finals for vault and the uneven bars," USA Gymnastics said in a statement. "She will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether to compete in the finals for floor exercise and balance beam."

USA Gymnastics added that they "remain in awe of Simone" and support her for the way she's handled the situation "with courage and grace."

Skinner's road to the Olympics was anything but easy, and the latest chapter only adds to the saga. But with her dream back on the table, Skinner has one last shot to leave Tokyo with some hardware.

In the qualifying meet, Skinner scored a 14.866 on vault, which was significantly less than her performance at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials where she scored a 15.183 and a 15.233. Biles claimed the top spot during the qualifying meet with a 15.183 score and Carey took the second spot with a 15.166 score.

Skinner tweeted after the news that she "can't wait" to compete again and was doing the vault final for her good friend Biles.

"Looks like I get to put a competition Leo on just one more time. Can't wait to compete in vault finals. Doing this for us @Simone_Biles ❤️ It's go time baby!"

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