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Is MyKayla Skinner a hero for speaking out, or did she cross the line this time?

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when you are a veteran gymnast turned content creator with 500k followers! Tokyo Olympics silver medalist MyKayla Skinner was found apologizing after facing serious backlash for her comments over Team USA’s gymnasts. But what did she say that led to backlash right from Simone Biles to the 1997  U.S. national all-around champion?

With the US trials just concluded on June 30th, the US gymnastics team is looking quite strong, with Jordan Chiles, Jade Carey, Hezley Rivera, Suni Lee, and the GOAT Simone Biles leading the pack. Four of the five competitors have experience at the Olympics, the most of any USA women’s gymnastics team in the past.

While many had their submissions and analysis about the team and their performances at the Paris Olympics, 27-year-old veteran US gymnast MyKayla Skinner had a whole other view! 

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The controversy began when during a now-deleted YouTube video, Skinner started saying, “But 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.” Well, while this was quite surprising enough, Skinner had more coming up. 

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“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.” Well, coming from someone who has been outspoken against harsh methods employed by coaches in the past seems a bit odd. Doesnt it?

Only last year, on her Agree to Disagree podcast, Skinner talked about the challenges of elite gymnastics and mentioned that the “Marta era was way worse.” Marta and her husband Bela Karolyi were called in 2018 by many gymnasts with accusations of abusive training methods at their isolated Karolyi Ranch.

She was also found taking a dig at Suni Lee! The 27-year-old expressed her astonishment as to how someone could fall twice and still end up in the second position. “Some of the girls that fell twice and still ending up in the second place in the all-around, just kind of crazy to me.”

At the trials, Suni Lee finished second with a score of 111.675. During her second event, Lee fell off early but got back on. She then lost her balance twice more, just managing to stay on the second time before securing her place in the Olympics team.

Continuing her rant she even said that given all the injuries in the lead-up to the trials, she could have been part of the team that will go to Paris.

Not saying anything to the girls that got injured, but if I could come back, I think I would be able to do it. And I think I probably could’ve made that Olympic team,” she added. Right now the US women’s gymnastics contingent will consist of Simone Biles, Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles, Jade Carey, and first-year senior Hezly Rivera.

Needless to say, her words were not well received. Taking a subtle dig at Skinner’s words, Simone Biles posted on threads,Not everyone needs a mic and a platform.” Interestingly, Skinner dedicated her silver medal at Tokyo to Biles, highlighting her impact on her career. Thus, such a statement coming from Biles only emphasizes the seriousness of her claims. 

Following suit, Jordan Chiles’ mother. Gina Chiles also sounded quite amazed. Taking to her X account, Gina wrote, “Whoa. She really said that out loud and posted it. That’s something…”

We also had Vanessa Atler, the 1997 U.S. national all-around champion, and 1998 Goodwill Games gold medalist giving Skinner a detailed response. Uploading a photo of the team on her Instagram, she wrote,

“I don’t know what other people were watching but….1) I have never seen so much depth! I can’t think of an era where 4 or 5 athletes can drop from injuries and we STILL have an amazing and epic team!.” Continuing her post, she added,

“2) Not as hard working as they used to be?? Are we kidding? We have 4 athletes that were on the last Olympic team. Do you know how difficult it is to make a comeback! These athletes are legends and deservingly so! And one young athlete who has done the work to earn that spot.” Atler also mentioned that there is no place in gymnastics for toxic training culture as seen during the Marta era.

Seeing the backlash coming her way, Skinner went into damage control mode and issued an apology for her comments while claiming that she was misunderstood.

MyKayla Skinner apologizes for harsh remarks

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Uploading a video on her Instagram stories, Skinner clarified, “Sorry for anything that got out of context or seemed hurtful. Throughout the video, I was so pumped for the girls and it was so fun watching trials and doing a live with everybody.”

She also clarified her comments, “I feel like a lot of you guys had misinterpreted or misunderstood exactly what I was meaning or had said.”

According to her, she was just comparing different eras and how the training methods have changed. “It was more about going back into my own gym, just the work ethic is different compared to when we were doing gymnastics in the [former team coordinator] Márta [Károlyi] era. And I’m not sticking up for Márta or saying what she did was good, I’m just saying it was different.”

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Whatever her reasoning, the gymnastics community hasn’t taken lightly to her comments. Given how the situation unraveled for her, Skinner did the only right thing in this scenario and apologized. Will that soften the stance of those enraged? Well, for that we will have to wait.