MyKayla Skinner to turn pro after Tokyo 2020, ends college career

The University of Utah broadcast journalism major will forgo the remainder of her college eligibility after competing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in 2021 to turn pro.

By ZK Goh
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Team USA Olympic gymnast MyKayla Skinner will not be back competing at the NCAA collegiate level for the University of Utah after the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in 2021.

Skinner, an alternate at Rio 2016, was selected by USA Gymnastics to take up the team's additional individual spot – secured through the All-Around World Cup – in Tokyo, joining Jade Carey as an individual specialist.

Now, she has decided to turn pro when the Games finish instead of returning to Utah to compete for her senior year, although she will finish her studies in broadcast journalism at the university.

Skinner, who is 24, competed for Utah for three years after travelling to Rio as Team USA's reserve.

In her collegiate career, she won national college titles in floor exercise (2017) and vault (2018), while also winning all-around NCAA silver medals in both 2017 and 2018. She was also named All-American 26 times.

"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," she wrote on Instagram.

NCAA rules forbade college athletes from accepting paid sponsorships, although recent litigation in the United States Supreme Court, as well as various new state laws, have weakened the NCAA's hand. Last week, the association voted to relax its restrictions temporarily.

Skinner confirmed that she would retire from competition after the Olympic Games.

"As one door closes, another opens, and I’m excited for what’s ahead," she wrote.

"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 already done the international-college dance once. After Rio 2016, she competed three seasons at the college level before returning to elite senior international competition for the World Championships in 2019, where she again served as an alternate.

She was selected for Tokyo 2020 on the strength of her vault, according to USA Gymnastics' Tom Forster, the women's team's high performance coordinator.

"When it comes down to it MyKayla also has world-class start values (compared to Riley McCusker) and execution on vault and she hit so that’s how we decided," he said of the U.S. Trials.

READ: Top five things to know about Olympic artistic gymnastics at Tokyo 2020

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