SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah gymnast who dreams of making the Olympic Trials in June is fighting for that chance after COVID-19 slowed her training.
Very few circumstances can drain the energy from gymnast MyKayla Skinner.
The 2018 NCAA vault champion and all-around silver medalist left the University of Utah to train for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. But a bout with COVID-19 in December slowed her training significantly.
“For two weeks I felt like I couldn’t move off the couch,” said Skinner, who was an alternate for the 2016 Olympic team. “I was sick, tired and exhausted. It was so weird having my body feel so weak, and there was nothing I could do about it. It’s been six weeks. And I think my body needs at least two more to get to full strength.”
Skinner tested positive for the virus on Dec. 12, 2020.
After the Christmas break, she headed back to the gym.
MyKayla Skinner was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Dec. 12, 2020, and ended up in the hospital with pneumonia in January. (Photo: MyKayla Skinner)
“I took my temperature, upon arriving, and my coach said, ‘That doesn’t look good.’ I was having some trouble breathing,” Skinner said.
Last week the Olympic hopeful landed in the hospital with pneumonia.
“It can definitely affect young people,” Skinner said. “It’s weird thinking you can be such a healthy and strong athlete, and it can still hit you so bad.”
Skinner was cleared to practice on Wednesday — nearly six weeks after her COVID-19 diagnosis.
“There’s supposed to be some international competitions in the next couple of months that I can hopefully do. But it’s all just a mess; things are up in the air. So we will see if that comes together,” Skinner said.
At the 2021 U.S. Gymnastics Championships, judges will name the national team, which goes to the Olympic trials in June. And the Olympics are projected to take place in July, after being postponed from their original date in 2020.
“I am trying to find the silver lining in all of this,” Skinner said. “I suffered an Achilles injury in the fall. This resting period has given my foot a chance to heal. It’s time to move forward.”