Skye Blakely, top contender for U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, withdraws from trials due to injury

Skye Blakely, a front-runner to make the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, withdrew from Olympic trials after suffering a right Achilles injury during podium training Wednesday, ending her hopes of going to Paris.

Blakely, 19, sustained the injury while practicing a double back layout on floor exercise. Olympic trials for the women’s team begin Friday in Minneapolis.

Blakely impressed at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, earlier this month, placing second in the all-around behind Simone Biles. She unveiled a more difficult vault and hit all her routines across both days of the competition. The new vault, a skill that requires a half twist entry onto the vault table followed by a laid-out flip with 1 1/2 twists, is known as a Cheng and is one of the most difficult vaults in women’s gymnastics. Blakely earned a huge 15.000 — the first 15 score of her career — for the Cheng on night one of the championships and successfully competed it again on night two for a 14.400.

That skill set her apart from the field and increased her chances of capturing one of five spots on the team for Paris. She also picked up bronze medals on uneven bars and balance beam at the U.S. Championships.

A solid all-arounder known for her potential to put up big scores on beam, Blakely is a two-time world champion who helped the U.S. to gold medals in 2022 and 2023. She was an outside contender for the Tokyo Olympic team but endured similar heartbreak three years ago when she tore her ulnar collateral ligament while warming up on vault at the 2020 Olympic trials. Blakely committed to the University of Florida to compete on the Gators’ gymnastics team alongside her older sister Sloane, who is a senior.

The women’s two-day competition to select the team representing the U.S. at the 2024 Olympics begins Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET and continues Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. The team and alternates will be announced after the end of the competition on night two.

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(Photo: Jerome Miron / USA Today)

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