Who Is MyKayla Skinner? Gymnast Replacing Simone Biles in Vault

Team USA gymnast MyKayla Skinner will compete in the vault finals at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday in Simone Biles place after her withdrawal.

USA Gymnastics issued a statement on Friday saying Biles would not compete in the vault or uneven bars finals following her earlier decision to withdraw from the women's team final and the all-around final.

Skinner is from Gilbert, Arizona and won silver in the vault at the 2021 U.S. National Championships, placing behind Biles. The 24-year-old qualified for Olympic trials and won a place at the Tokyo games.

Skinner was an alternate at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil and was added as an individual for the Tokyo games, meaning while she was part of the U.S. contingent, she was not part of the team.

This status is new for the 2020 games and has proven controversial. It will no longer be used in 2024.

There was criticism of the decision to give individual places to both Skinner and fellow gymnast Jade Carey because they would be competing against each other for the same medals.

Before the games began, Skinner had announced she would retire from gymnastics after this year's games and return to finish her studies at the University of Utah.

On July 3, Skinner wrote on Instagram: "I am so excited to compete in Tokyo in just a few weeks and I'm grateful for all of your support. I wanted to announce I will be going pro and not returning to compete in the NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association]. The Olympics will be my last gymnastics competition before I officially retire."

Skinner's hopes of a medal seemed to be over after just the first day of the games when Biles and Carey qualified for the two U.S. spots in the final of the vault. The two-per-country rule and her fourth place finish in the qualifier appeared to put an abrupt end to her competitive career.

However, Skinner now has a new opportunity to compete for an Olympic medal. In a statement on Friday, USA Gymnastics pointed to her previous performance as well as Carey's. Both will compete in the vault on Sunday.

"MyKayla Skinner, who had the fourth-highest score in vault during qualifications, will compete in vault finals for the US alongside Jade Carey, who finished with the second-highest score," the statement said.

Her coach, Lisa Spini, said on Friday before Biles' announcement that she and Skinner had planned to leave Japan "but were asked to stay."

"She is doing really well in training," Spini said. "Her vaults in qualifying were not her best."

"This wouldn't be exactly how you want to get an opportunity, but you take it. Her first dream was to be an Olympian and her second was to medal," Spini said.

Newsweek has asked USA Gymnastics for comment.

MyKayla Skinner Competing on Balance Beam
MyKayla Skinner of Team United States reacts after competing on balance beam during Women's Qualification on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Skinner will compete in Sunday's vault final after Simone Biles withdrew. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images