CHAMPLIN, Minn. – The Twin City Twisters in Champlin is the home gym of Grace McCallum, a member of the 2018 World Championship U.S. gymnastics team.
A large banner hangs over the facility’s main entrance honoring that accomplishment. But her supporters are hoping the gym will soon need a new banner that reads, “Home of Grace McCallum, 2020 Olympic Gold Medalist.”
McCallum was selected at the conclusion of the U.S. Olympic Trials in St. Louis June 27 to be part of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team heading to the Tokyo Summer Games, which start July 23.
That’s a lot of pressure for the 18-year-old from Isanti who is a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. But she’s taking it in stride.
“I’m super excited,” McCallum said. “I feel so blessed that I’ve been given this opportunity to go represent our country at the biggest meet in the world.”
The experience has been a little surreal, and she is still caught up in the whirlwind of being chosen for the team, she told The Central Minnesota Catholic, the magazine of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota.
“I just try not to think about it too much, I’m going to go into the meet and just have fun,” McCallum said. “I mean, I got there; now I’m just going to enjoy it, enjoy every moment. So, I try not to let the pressure of it being the biggest meet get to me.”
She was confident, but still not positive she would make the team going into the trials.
“I knew it was going to be really, really tight between me, MyKayla (Skinner from Arizona), and Kayla (DiCello from Maryland),” she said. “It was basically whoever hit that day. I felt a little bit of pressure, but then I (thought), ‘I’m just going to have fun today and just do what I do. Whatever God wants for me, he’ll make it happen.’ I just had to kind of trust everything.”
Her team at the gym is excited to watch her compete in Tokyo.
“I have such a great support system here. They’re all super happy and excited,” she said. “I really lucked out with the amazing team that I have.”
In addition to her team at the gym, McCallum’s family will be watching her compete on television. Due to COVID-19 restrictions in place for the Games, no family members are allowed to attend.
“It will be an adjustment, but you know, it’s OK,” she said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so you’re going to do whatever you can and you’re going to follow all the rules.”
Her mom, Sandy, who has only missed one or two of her daughter’s gymnastics meets, had planned before the pandemic to travel to Tokyo.
“I’m kind of heartbroken about that and I know she is too, but it’s OK,” McCallum said. “She’ll be cheering me on from home. It would be nice to have her in the stands so I could see her up there.”
Japan announced July 8 that the Olympics will proceed under a state of emergency and without any spectators at events in Tokyo due to concerns about the coronavirus. The protocols put in place for the athletes are very strict, too, McCallum said.
Members of the team will be tested before they leave the U.S. July 14, as well as when they arrive in Tokyo. Their temperatures will be monitored and activity limited, she said.
The Twin City Twisters in Champlin is the home gym of Grace McCallum, a member of the 2018 World Championship U.S. gymnastics team.