MyKayla Skinner is headed to Tokyo to take part in the Olympic Games after earning a coveted spot on the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team Sunday night.
It’s a dream come true for the 24-year-old, who served as an alternate for the team at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. As TODAY’s Hoda Kotb noted when she spoke to the gymnast following the Olympic trials in St. Louis, Missouri, “Some dreams take a long time.”
However, not too long ago, Skinner feared this one might not happen at all.
In December, the Utah Red Rocks athlete contracted the coronavirus, and after battling the illness for two weeks, she was diagnosed with pneumonia. That left her hospitalized for a week and away from the gym even longer than that.
“I survived,” she told Hoda. “I mean, I wanted to give up so many times. I was like, ‘I don't even know if I can do this anymore.’”
But she found herself able to rally again in time to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, and for that, she partly credits the teammates who will be going with her — Simon Biles, Jordan Chiles, Sunisa Lee, Jade Carey and Grace McCallum — for giving her the support she needed in the wake of her illness.
“I feel like just having these girls, and my family having my back through it all, has really helped me get to where I am today,” Skinner said.
When Skinner sat down with Hoda and her teammates, she was fresh off a fifth all-around finish at the trials, and finally had her Olympic dream in sight. Unfortunately, that meant she might not dream of anything else for a while — because she’s not so sure she’ll get any sleep.
“I don’t think I’ll be sleeping,” she said. “You know, even after the last Olympics, being so close to it, I'm really glad that I never gave up my dream, and I kept going.”
She’s not the only one on the team who has persevered through hardship to get to reach an Olympic aspiration.
In the case of 18-year-old Sunisa Lee, it wasn’t just her goal: Her father dreamed of seeing her land a spot on Team USA, but two years ago, an accident left him paralyzed.
Still, he was in the stands Sunday night, celebrating her success alongside the others.
“This has been our dream for the longest, basically since I was a baby,” Lee explained to Hoda. “He's been by my side through everything, so to have him here at the Olympic trials with me is something that was so amazing.”
See more from all six members of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team when they head to Tokyo next month.