MyKayla Skinner Tells Simone Biles She's 'Doing This for Us' as She Steps Up for Vault Final in Tokyo Olympics
"Simone must feel crushed that she can't compete. But it opened up that opportunity for MyKayla," Skinner's mom, Kym, tells PEOPLE
MyKayla Skinner's dream of winning an Olympic medal is, suddenly, still alive.
On Saturday, USA Gymnastics announced that Simone Biles would no longer compete in the women's gymnastics vault final on Sunday and Skinner would replace the 24-year-old veteran captain of the U.S. women's gymnastics roster.
"[Biles] will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether to compete in the finals for floor exercise and balance beam," gymnastics officials said of the change. "MyKayla Skinner, who had the fourth-highest score in vault during qualifications, will compete in vault finals for the U.S. alongside Jade Carey, who finished with the second-highest score."
After the announcement was made, Skinner shared her excitement on Instagram as well as her support for Biles, a close friend.
"Looks like I get to put a competition Leo on just one more time. Can't wait to compete in vault finals," the 24-year-old Arizona native said. "Doing this for us @simonebiles ❤️ It's go time baby!"
Skinner, who was selected as an individual and not as a member of the U.S. team — which was instead made up of Biles, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum — did not qualify for any event final after competing on all four apparatuses during Sunday's qualifying round and had finished in 10th place in the all-around rankings with a total score of 55.398.
Shortly before Saturday's statement, Skinner's mother, Kym, spoke with PEOPLE about the "truly amazing" opportunity of MyKayla possibly stepping in for Biles, who has cited mental health concerns and the loss of her air awareness as her reason for her withdrawals so far.
"We talk a lot in our family, like 'Who would've guessed the way this thing went?' It's been so interesting and so twisted as far as what's happened to Simone. It's been awful for [Simone] and for everybody, the way it happened," Kym says.
"It's weird, but it's opened up opportunities. Like for Sunisa Lee, she ended up winning the gold in the all-around — that's amazing! She got that opportunity," Kym says. (Biles and MyKayla were in the stands cheering and supporting Lee, 18, during the competition.)
"Simone must feel crushed that she can't compete. But it opened up that opportunity for MyKayla," Kym continues. "MyKayla would just be on top of the world because she really wants a chance to get a medal."
MyKayla was originally scheduled to leave Japan on Wednesday evening. But Kym says her daughter chose to remain in Tokyo. "I know she will give it her all. I know she's been training really well right now," she says.
As for the Skinner family mantra that has been a constant in MyKayla's elite career, Kym repeats to PEOPLE: "'Just do it,' that's what we always say. Do your thing."
To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.
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