MyKayla Skinner Celebrates Her Silver Medal Win: 'Just Feeling Super Grateful'
The Team USA gymnast, 24, told Today show anchor Hoda Kotb Monday that she "would have never thought" she'd be walking away from the Games with a silver medal after finishing second in the women's gymnastics vault final on Sunday.
"I was supposed to be flying home, but here I am and just feeling super grateful," Skinner said.
While she was initially selected as an individual and not as a member of the U.S. team, Skinner was called in to compete in the vault event after Simone Biles withdrew.
"We were watching team finals and of course things didn't go as planned," Skinner said, adding that Biles insisted she couldn't go home and should stay, in the event that she would need to compete in her place.
When it was time for Skinner to step up and fill in for her teammate, she told Biles, "I'm doing this for us." When Kotb asked what she meant by her message to Biles, the athlete explained, "Simone and I have been the OGs of the team and it's just been so fun to have that leadership and to kind of guide the younger generation."
She continued, "I feel like, you know, after everything that she's been through, it's just been kind of hard on her, but she's really been able to stay positive through it all and so she's definitely inspired me, and I said, 'You know what, you were supposed to have this opportunity but I'm so grateful to be able to step in for you and I wanted to do this for us.'"
While competing on Sunday, Skinner told Kotb she could feel the supportive energy from her teammates in the stands, shouting out Biles in particular for her especially loud cheering.
"I could feel it down there. I was running for my second vault and I'm like, 'Simone is cheering so loud,' " Skinner said. "I felt like I was going to be distracted almost, so I could hear them up there. Even the guys' team was just so loud. It was insane. So that was definitely much needed."
Skinner's victory came after the gymnast said initially felt "heartbroken" for failing to qualify for the event finals.
"I never thought this was going to happen, even for me," she explained. "I thought I was maybe going to be the only one walking home without one, so that's really cool that I was able to place silver."
While Biles' withdrawal created the opportunity for Skinner's unlikely win, her teammate is expected to be back in the Games for the beam finals. Biles is set to compete in the fifth and final individual medal event for gymnastics, USA Gymnastics announced Monday.
"I'm really excited for her, I'm gonna cheer her on so hard and just really hope that she can medal and just do the dismount of her life," Skinner told Kotb of Biles' upcoming event. "I know she's been trying to work on different dismounts and figuring things out … I'm so happy for her."
To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.