How did MyKayla Skinner and Grace McCallum do in Olympic qualification?
Skinner and McCallum each had their moments, but came up short in their bids to qualify for individual event finals
The goal, for years if not longer, had been to make it to the Olympic Games and both Skinner and McCallum accomplished that.
Once in Tokyo, though, the goal understandably had to shift, so the duo set their sights on qualifying for individual event finals, with McCallum also hoping to help the four-woman U.S. team in whatever way she could in their quest to win a gold medal.
“The goal is to make all the event finals for the team and to contribute any way that I can,” McCallum said. “I want to get an individual medal, but we’ll see.”
The University of Utah gymnasts — past and future — each had their moments early Sunday morning, but ultimately fell short.
McCallum finished with an all-around score of 55.165, fifth among the six American gymnasts, and while she had strong performances on vault (14.533) and uneven bars (14.100), she failed to finish in the top 2 among the U.S. competitors on any event and did not qualify for an event final.
(Only the top two competitors from any country advance to event finals at the Olympics).
McCallum will have the opportunity to compete in the team final early Tuesday morning, though, as a member of the four-women team.
Skinner, an individual competitor, finished with a 55.398 in the all-around competition, fourth among all Americans, behind Simone Biles (57.731), Sunisa Lee (57.166) and Jade Carey (56.265).
She was great, as expected, on vault, scoring a 14.933 on her Cheng and a 14.866 on her Amanar, and finished the night with the fourth-best overall score on the vault by any gymnast. Because she finished behind Biles and Carey, though, she failed to qualify for the event final on her strongest event.
Despite having one of the best overall meets of her career, Skinner did not qualify for any event final, meaning she will not compete for a medal in Tokyo. Her gymnastics career effectively came to an end Sunday, barring an unexpected COVID-19 outbreak among Biles, Lee, Jordan Chiles or McCallum prior to the team final.
Support poured in for Skinner, including from former U.S. Olympian and Utah great Missy Marlowe, who wrote in a message on Twitter, “So proud of you MyKayla Skinner. You had a job to do and you did beautifully! You showed us your best self when it counted most. Way to never give up on your goals.”
Kathy Johnson Clarke, another former U.S. Olympian and beloved sports broadcaster added, “When you have the meet of your life at the Olympic Games 19 years after embarking on an incredible journey, you have won something as precious as any medal! Wear this personal victory proudly! Congratulations, MyKayla Skinner!”
Hours later, at the close of competition, Skinner’s longtime head coach Lisa Spini wrote, “So proud of this amazing athlete, who earn a well-deserved spot on the US Olympic Team. Today, she hit 4 events in the Olympic Games. She is genuinely supportive and happy for her teammates. There may be no finals or medals for her, but she is truly an exemplary Olympic Athlete.”
So proud of this amazing athlete, who earn a well-deserved spot on the US Olympic Team. Today, she hit 4 events in the Olympic Games. She is genuinely supportive and happy for her teammates. There may be no finals or medals for her, but she is truly an exemplary Olympic Athlete. pic.twitter.com/O8zkCEuqqk— Lisa Spini (@SpiniLisa) July 25, 2021
Biles also expressed strong support for Skinner.
“So incredibly proud of this girl right here,” she wrote. “Thanks for always keeping gym light hearted and fun! love you! you’re amazing ms olympian.”
Skinner revealed her feelings as best she could later Sunday morning, writing “Heart broken, but feeling sooo humbled and blessed for the amazing performance I had tonight! You have all brought me to tears thanks for being my biggest cheerleaders! Love u all.”
Heart broken💔 but feeling sooo humbled and blessed for the amazing performance I had tonight! You have all brought me to tears thanks for being my biggest cheerleaders! Love u all😘 xoxo myk— MyKayla Skinner (Harmer) (@mykaylaskinner) July 25, 2021
Team USA struggled on the whole in qualification, at least by its usual standards, and the gymnasts opted out of media availability. The U.S. (170.562) finished behind Russia (171.629) in the standings, marking the first time since 2010 that the U.S. didn’t win the qualifying round at either the Olympics or World Championships, which also happens to be the last time the Americans didn’t go on to win the team title.
China (166.863), France (164.561), Belgium (164.195) and Great Britain (163.396) rounded out the top 6 in the team standings.
Biles and Lee will represent the U.S. in the all-around final, balance beam and uneven bars finals, while Biles and Carey will compete in the floor and vault finals.