For as long as they can remember, it's been the dreams of MyKayla Skinner and Grace McCallum to compete in the Olympics.
So when it was announced a few weeks ago that the future Ute (McCallum) and the former Red Rock (Skinner) would both be representing the United States at the Olympics, both were ecstatic.
“We wanted to give each other a hug because we worked so hard for this moment,” McCallum said after the team was chosen at the US Olympic Trials. “It’s really nice to have MyKayla as part of the team. She makes you feel not so homesick. She’s so friendly and caring, and makes sure you feel comfortable. She’s the mom of the group. She makes you feel safe. I’m really excited she’s on the team.”
But once they reached the world's biggest stage during Sunday's early-morning contest, both Red Rocks had their fair share of ups and downs.
For Skinner, she was not named to the four-team all-around competition representing the United States so she was all about the individual competitions. Spectacular on vault, Skinner competed in all four rotations during the qualifications.
In what was arguably Skinner's best overall meet of her life, it ended in heartbreak.
She finished the competition with the fourth-highest score among Americans in the all-around at 55.398. The GOAT Simone Biles finished first (57.731) followed by Sunisa Lee (57.166) and fellow individual competitor Jade Carey (56.265).
Widely considered one of the best athletes on vault in the world, Skinner finished with a 14.933 on Cheng and a 14.866 on her Amanar — the fourth best overall score by any gymnast. But due to Olympics rules, only two athletes per nation can advance to the finals — which left Skinner on the outside looking in as Biles and Carey took the top two spots.
With Skinner having the meet of her life, McCallum showed some nerves in her first Olympics.
As a member of the four-member squad, every routine McCallum would count and eventually pay massive dividends in the end. She finished with an all-around score of 55.165, fifth among the six American gymnasts.
True to form, McCallum had very impressive routines on vault (14.533) and uneven bars (14.100) ‚ but she struggled on floor (stepped out of bounds) and beam. She will not be competing for any individual medal but is still alive for the team medal portion of the competition.
"The goal is to make all the event finals for the team and to contribute any way that I can,” McCallum said before the competition. “I want to get an individual medal, but we’ll see.”
As a unit, Team USA struggled in the qualification round.
The Americans will enter the finals on Tuesday morning as the second-highest scoring team behind the Russians — 171.629 to 170.562.
For a nation that has dominated gymnastics over the past decade, the final scoring from Sunday morning was shocking. It was the first time since 2010 that the Americans failed to win a qualifying round at either the Olympics or World Championships — the two biggest competitions offered.
Ironically, 2010 was the last time Team USA failed to win the gold medal in the team competition at either the Olympics or World Championships.
Biles struggled mightily in both floor and vault yet still finished with high scores. She qualified for the finals in all four individual events despite her struggles — which truly showcases her overall dominance.