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MyKayla Skinner announces she will retire from gymnastics after Olympics

Skinner will be returning to the University of Utah to earn her degree following the Olympics, but her collegiate gymnastics career is over

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Utah’s MyKayla Skinner competes on the floor.

Utah’s MyKayla Skinner competes on the floor during the NCAA gymnastics semifinals in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday, April 19, 2019. Skinner announced on Saturday that she will retire after the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and will not return to the University of Utah.

Deena Lofgren, Utah Athletics

MyKayla Skinner’s collegiate gymnastics career is over.

The Olympian announced via social media Saturday morning that she has made the decision to go pro and will not be returning to the NCAA.

The 2021 Tokyo Olympic games will be the final gymnastics competition of her career.

Skinner wrote in an Instagram post: “Hey everyone! 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. 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. More importantly, I am not getting any younger and my body definitely needs a rest after this last comeback.

“I have nothing but good things to say about Utah Gymnastics — the organization, the athletes, the fans, coach Tom and the staff. I will be returning to finish my degree and graduate at the U., and will forever be a Red Rock. We have the best fan base in the nation and I’m happy to now transition into being a part of it.

“As one door closes, another opens, and I’m excited for what’s ahead. 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.”

Skinner had previously entertained the idea of returning to Utah for her senior season, health permitting, but in the last year alone she has been hospitalized for pneumonia brought on by COVID-19, and is currently dealing with a bone spur in her ankle that aggravates her Achilles tendon, an ailment that will likely necessitate surgery following the Olympic Games.

In a statement Saturday, Utah’s head gymnastics coach Tom Farden said of Skinner’s decision: “We are over the moon that MyKayla’s lifelong dream to become an Olympian came true. 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.”

Skinner competed three years at the University of Utah and was a two-time NCAA champion and a two-time NCAA all-around runner-up. She holds the NCAA record for consecutive routines without a fall (161), and set a school record with 26 All-America selections (13 NCAA, 13 regular season).

Over the course of her time at the U., Skinner:

  • Earned 23 first-team All-America honors.
  • Was an eight-time regional champion.
  • Was a seven-time All-Pac-12 champion.
  • Tied the Pac-12 record for most all-conference awards with 14.
  • Holds the Pac-12 record for career Gymnast of the Week honors with 16.
  • Racked up 111 career victories as a Red Rock, which ranks third all-time in program history.

All told, Skinner is arguably the greatest gymnast in Utah history.

For all of her collegiate success, though, the Olympics were always her goal.

“I know how invested she is in this goal and dream,” Farden told the Deseret News. “For her to leave the University of Utah on a hiatus and go and chase this dream and then have it get extended, only have her say, ‘I’m going to keep going ...’ I knew how much it meant to her. I knew how bad she wanted it.

“Her whole life’s ambition has been to be an Olympian, for her dream to come true,” he said, trailing off. “I talked to her after the meet and I told her, ‘You’re a natural born fighter,’ because that is who she is. She did that all through her career here so when she made that Olympic team, I wasn’t surprised. That is her. That is MyKayla. She is going to fight to the bitter end and she did.”