Home/Olympics

via Imago

via Imago

0
  Debate

Debate

Jordan Chiles' mom vs. MyKayla Skinner—who's in the right in this gymnastics showdown?

“I dedicate this medal to Simone. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her,” MyKayla Skinner said after snagging a silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics vault final. Simone Biles and MyKayla Skinner were teammates and friends during the 2016 Rio and 2021 Tokyo Olympics, sharing a lot of love and respect for each other. Fast forward to the Paris Olympics, and things have taken a bit of a sour turn.

As Simone Biles heads into her third run at the Games, with gymnastics stars Jordan Chiles, Suni Lee, Jade Carey, and newcomer Hezly Rivera, they’re all set on clinching gold. But MyKayla Skinner, the 2021 Olympic vault silver medalist, made some bold comments about the team led by Simone, and let’s just say they didn’t sit well with Biles. And even Jordan Chiles’ mom has clapped back at the former gymnast.

Jordan Chiles’ mother and Simone Biles come to Team USA’s defense

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

In a now-unavailable YouTube video, MyKayla Skinner shared her thoughts on the 2024 Team USA heading to Paris. She said, “Besides Simone, I feel like the talent and the depth just isn’t what it used to be. I mean, obviously, a lot of girls don’t work as hard. The girls just don’t have the work ethic.” Gymnastics is a sport that takes nothing less than an incredible work ethic to succeed. Skinner would know that as well as anyone. But the fact that she said this – among many other controversial takes – compelled Chiles’ mom and Biles to speak up.

Poll of the day

Do you agree with Jordan Chiles' mother calling out MyKayla Skinner's controversial statement?

Absolutely

Not at all

Partially

Need more context

Jordan Chiles’ mom, Gina, hopped on X and wrote, “Whoa. She really said that out loud and posted it. That’s something…” highlighting the remarks about Jordan Chiles and the rest of the team. Simone also stood up for her bestie, Jordan, and her other team members by posting on Instagram Threads. “Not everyone needs a mic and a platform.”

Many fans thought this was a sneaky jab at Skinner, who has a podcast, Agree to Disagree, with her husband, Jonas Harmer. Considering how disrespectful Skinner’s comments were to the Team USA team, you can understand why Simone Biles was upset and posted what she did. The thing is, figures like Skinner have the ability to influence, and the message she inadvertently put out was far from the truth, just like the other things she mentioned… including her take on SafeSport.

Per the Tokyo Olympics vault silver medalist, the organization, which aims to protect athletes, has made them less fierce. “It’s hard [to have the same work ethic as before] because of SafeSport. Coaches can’t get on athletes. They have to be really careful with what they say, which in some ways is really good but at the same time, to get really good in gymnastics, you do have to be a little aggressive and a little intense.” Her bold statements didn’t end there.

With no teams from Russia allowed to participate in the Games, Skinner added, “Russia’s not gonna be there. So you don’t have to feel the stress of Russia. And what other teams really are there?” While she believes other teams have gotten “stronger,” it was disrespectful nonetheless. And so were the sly jabs at Jordan Chiles (who scored 56.400 and placed second in the all-around) and Suni Lee (who came in third with 56.025).

“It’s just some of the other girls that fell twice and still ending up in second place in the all-around is just kind of crazy to me.” Both Chiles and Lee fell on the beam – Chiles was doing her back handspring layout, and Lee was on her round-off to layout step-out mount. Maybe this veiled dig added to Gina Chiles’ ire. To top it off, she mispronounced Hezly Rivera’s name, which didn’t sit well with fans. As a result of all the backlash she faced, MyKayla Skinner issued an apology.

MyKayla Skinner cleared the air around her comments

Remember how we said fans weren’t happy with what MyKayla Skinner had to say? Well, referencing her comment about Chiles and Lee’s falls, a fan on Reddit wrote, “The fact that that girl came for Suni for falling twice and saying she could beat her was wild. If you compared their scores in 2021, Suni could have fallen 3 times and still beat her. In 2024, Suni could have fallen 4 and still beat her.” This was just one of many comments – apart from Simone Biles and Gina Chiles’ – that called the former gymnast out.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

In response, on July 3, Skinner posted a video on her Instagram story, apologizing. “Hey guys, just wanted to pop on here really quick ’cause I know we did the re-cap on YouTube and I feel like a lot of you guys had misinterpreted or misunderstood exactly what I was meaning or had said.” Claiming that she wasn’t necessarily talking about the current team, MyKayla explained, It was more about going back into my own gym, and just the work ethic is different compared to when we were doing gymnastics in the Márta [Károlyi] era.”

Gymnastics coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi, the owners of Karolyi Ranch, were accused of inflicting verbal and emotional abuse that fostered a culture of fear among their trainees. Even Simone Biles admitted to dreading the feeling of going back to Karolyi Ranch. In a 2018 statement, the 7-time Olympic medalist said, “It is impossibly difficult to relive these experiences and it breaks my heart even more to think that as I work towards my dream of competing in Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

A couple of days after Biles made this statement, USA Gymnastics announced that Karolyi Ranch would “no longer serve as the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center.” Considering this past, MyKayla Skinner added, “I’m not sticking up for Márta or saying what she did was good; I’m just saying it was different… I love those girls and I’m seriously so happy for them, so I would never do anything to make them feel otherwise. So sorry if that came out wrong. That was not my intention at all.” 

Reflecting on this, it’s understandable why Simone Biles and Jordan Chiles’ mom were upset. What’s your take? Do you think their clapback was aimed at MyKayla Skinner? How do you feel about the opinions of the Olympic vault silver medalist? Share your thoughts below!