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MyKayla Skinner Reflects on Alleged ‘Emotional and Verbal Abuse’ of Former Team USA Coach

MyKayla Skinner Still Coming to Terms with Emotional and Verbal Abuse of Former Team USA Coach
Mykayla Skinner. Harry How/Getty Images

MyKayla Skinner said she is “coming to terms” with the abuse she allegedly endured under former Team USA coach Márta Károlyi.

“I want to formally apologize to Team USA and to our gymnastic community for my comments during my recent YouTube episodes of the gymnastics Olympic trials,” Skinner, 27, said in an official statement given to Us Weekly on Sunday, July 7. The retired gymnast received significant backlash after she criticized the work ethic of the gymnasts set to compete at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

“It was not my intention to offend or disrespect any of the athletes or to take away from their hard work,” her statement said. “Your hard work and dedication has paid off and I congratulate each and every one of you.”

Skinner continued, “Upon reflection, I was comparing the ‘Márta Era’ to the current era. I am coming to terms that I have not fully dealt with the emotional and verbal abuse I endured under Marta that perhaps led to my hurtful comments. I take full responsibility for what I said and I deeply apologize.”

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Skinner, like many Olympic gymnasts, was trained by Márta, former national team coordinator for USA Gymnastics, and her husband, Béla Károlyi, known for their strict rules with their athletes. Marta’s alleged practices, in particular, were highlighted in an exposé published by the Associated Press in 2018.

MyKayla Skinner Still Coming to Terms with Emotional and Verbal Abuse of Former Team USA Coach
Mykayla Skinner. Ian MacNicol/Getty images

“It is most important to me that the sport I love continue down the path of healing and ensures a positive environment for all,” Skinner’s statement to Us concluded. “I wish you all the very best in Paris. I will be cheering you all on! Go Team USA!“

Us has reached out to USA Gymnastics for comment.

The retired gymnast and Olympian’s formal apology comes after she criticized the work ethic of the current gymnasts representing Team USA at the 2024 Olympic Trials in Paris.

In a YouTube video shared in June, Skinner, who previously competed in both the 2016 and 2021 Olympics, said, “Besides Simone [Biles], I feel like the talent and the depth just isn’t what it used to be. I mean, obviously, a lot of girls don’t work as hard. The girls just don’t have the work ethic.” (The 2024 women’s Olympic gymnastics team includes Biles, Suni Lee, Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles and Hezly Rivera.)

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At the time, she went on to say that, due to SafeSport, coaches now “can’t get on athletes which in some ways is really good but at the same time, to get to where you need to be in gymnastics you do have to be a little aggressive, a little intense.” The U.S. Center for SafeSport is an independent organization responding “to sexual, physical, and emotional abuse” in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movement.

Skinner previously apologized for her comments earlier in July, clarifying that she wasn’t “sticking up for Marta or saying what she did was good,” but was only making a comparison.

“It was more about going back into my own gym and the work ethic is different compared to when we were doing gymnastics in the Marta era,” she said. “I’m just saying it was different. So sorry for anything that got out of context or seemed hurtful; I love those girls and I’m seriously so happy for them so I would never do anything to make them feel otherwise.”

The training methods of the Károlyis have long been denounced by gymnasts, including Olympian Dominique Moceanu, who recently criticized her former coaches and praised current Team USA for prioritizing the well-being of their athletes.

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“As someone who was directly coached by Béla & Marta Károlyi, who began their coaching careers in the U.S. in 1981, I experienced the intensity & demands of their decades-long influence firsthand,” Moceanu, 42, wrote via X on Thursday, July 4. (Moceanu competed in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.)

​​“As we transition from the Károlyi era to prioritizing well-being over medals, especially during this time of reflection on our country’s independence, we must proceed with care,” Moceanu said, adding that “this shift is essential” to “support athletes’ health while nurturing their competitive spirit.”

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