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Persistence, Prayer Reward Olympics-Bound Latter-day Saint Gymnast

MyKayla Skinner reacts after landing her balance beam dismount during the women’s competition of the 2021 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials at America’s Center on Friday, June 25, 2021, in St Louis, Missouri. Photo by Jamie Squire, Getty Images.

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By Jason Swensen, Church News

A couple of years ago, Latter-day Saint MyKayla Skinner talked to the Church News about her decision to surrender her spot on the University of Utah’s gymnastics team to focus on claiming a spot on the U.S. National Team and competing in the fast-approaching Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Given her team-qualifying performances last weekend at the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, the 24-year-old clearly made the right call.

Skinner was named to Team USA, where she will compete as an individual in Japan.

The Arizona native told the Church News that she made the tough choice to leave college gymnastics after enlisting the opinions of family and close friends — and a lot of prayer.

“I received the answer that I should try (to make the Olympic team) and have no regrets,” she said. Competing at the Games, she added, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Strength, she added, is always found in seeking the Lord’s guidance.

“Having God close by has really helped me to keep going and get answers,” she said. “The challenges in life can get so hard at times. But I feel like you can’t give up until the very end. You have to keep pushing for those goals and dreams.”

Shortly after making the 2021 Olympic squad, Skinner told NBC’s Hoda Kotb that she was thrilled to be heading to Tokyo after so many years of competing. She is a veteran of the American senior national team and was an alternate on the 2016 Olympic team that competed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“I don’t think I’ll be sleeping,” she said. “Even after last Olympics and being so close to it, I’m really glad that I never gave up my dream and I kept going.”

Since leaving Utah, the road to the Olympics has been an exercise in persistence for Skinner. She battled injury and a difficult bout with COVID-19 and pneumonia.

But she has also made timeless memories beyond her grueling sport. In November 2019, she married Jonas Harmer in the Gilbert Arizona Temple.

Following the Games, University of Utah fans hope Skinner is back representing the Utes. The gymnast has said she plans to compete again collegiately, if her health allows.

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