Saturday, July 13, 2024

Olympic gold medalist fires back at MyKayla Skinner criticism of USA gymnastics

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Controversial remarks by former USA gymnast MyKayla Skinner put the United States gymnastics team in the headlines ahead of the Paris Olympics later this month.

The 27-year-old Skinner claimed that “the talent and depth isn’t what it used to be” for U.S. Gymnastics and that “the girls don’t work as hard” because of the organization’s current culture.

Skinner’s comments caught the attention of four-time Olympic medalist Shawn Johnson, who won one gold and three silver medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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Johnson shut down Skinner’s claims and showed confidence in the group of gymnasts traveling to Paris to represent the United States.

“I think we have a phenomenally strong team,” Johnson told Caroline Fenton of Yahoo Sports. “As far as difficulty level and scores are concerned, I do think we are the frontrunners by many, many points. And so, as long as they go out there and do their thing— no, I don’t think there’s any concern.”

This year’s team includes the legendary Simone Biles, reigning all-around champion Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles, Jade Carey, and Hezly Rivera. Chiles and Carey have previous Olympic experience, competing in Tokyo, while Rivera is a 16-year-old phenom.

Johnson also rejected any criticism of the culture of USA Gymnastics.

Sunisa Lee, Hezly Rivera, Jade Carey, Simone Biles and Jordan Chiles, USA gymnastics

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

“I think our team, and the atmosphere, and the whole vibe of the USA Gymnastics looks completely different than it ever has. I think there’s been a lot of really massive, systemic changes, and you’re seeing that in how old the girls are, and how they’re showing themselves out,” Johnson said.

“They’re having more fun. They’re engaging with each other. They seem lighter. They seem happier. They seem like they’re truly enjoying the sport.”

The 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris will begin with the Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 26, and run through Sunday, August 11.

The United States gymnastics team will begin competition with the Women’s Qualifications on Sunday, July 28.

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