Olympic gymnastics hopeful MyKayla Skinner battles COVID and time in bid to compete in Tokyo
After recovering from a bout with COVID-19 and a visit to the hospital, gymnast MyKayla Skinner is looking to make up for lost time in her bid for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team this summer.
Nearly six weeks after her initial diagnosis and a week after landing in the hospital with pneumonia, Skinner will finally be able to return to practice on Wednesday.
An alternate on the 2016 Olympic team, Skinner won the 2018 NCAA title in the vault at the University of Utah, but she left school to train for the 2020 Games in Tokyo. After the pandemic pushed the schedule back a year, Skinner learned first-hand about the virus's effects.
“For two weeks I felt like I couldn’t move off the couch,” Skinner told Salt Lake City's KSL-TV . “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.”
At least the time off from training has allowed an Achilles injury she suffered in the fall to heal. But the clock is ticking.
“There’s supposed to be some international competitions in the next couple of months that I can hopefully do," Skinner, 24, said. "But it’s all just a mess; things are up in the air. So we will see if that comes together.”
The next major milestone is the U.S. Gymnastics Championships, set for June 4-7 in Fort Worth, Texas. There, the judges will name the national team, which will help determine who goes to the Olympic Trials on June 25-28 in St. Louis.
Less than a month after the Olympic team is named, the Summer Games begin in Tokyo.
If Skinner is able to make the U.S. squad, it will be even more of an accomplishment after what might have been her toughest opponent, the coronavirus.
“It can definitely affect young people,” she said. “It’s weird thinking you can be such a healthy and strong athlete, and it can still hit you so bad.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Olympic gymnastics hopeful MyKayla Skinner battles COVID and time in bid to compete in Tokyo