Biles in the shadows vaults 2 Utah gymnasts into Olympic spotlight

TOKYO, Japan. — Grace McCallum, University of Utah athlete and more to the point, Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medalist had to take the reins when her teammate Simone Biles needed her to most.

First up after Biles bobbled on the vault and walked to the locker room with her medical team later citing more of a mental blockage, McCallum told NBC’s Today show “I was really stressed because I knew that my routine probably would set the mood for the meet, so it was a lot of pressure, my heart was beating about a million miles per hour and I was on the verge of tears.”

McCallum said, “I just knew that I had to do my gymnastics, nothing more nothing less.”

That insight can be extrapolated across the board, in some schools of thought, of Tokyo 2020 summer Olympic Games. It being the first Games postponed due to global public health and the complete and total void of the spectators and the spectacle that is the Olympic Games pulls focus to something else, something nostalgic of the last Games held in Tokyo in ’64, the first time NBC was the host America’s host network, that may reevolve into something forward-leaning.  McCallum’s quote personifies the fact that these are simply still the best athletes in the world doing the thing they do best against their worldwide counterpart competitors, full stop.

Needing only three top performances in the gymnastics team event meant that McCallum’s and her two teammates were more than sufficient in Biles’ momentary absence to procure the silver medal.

Today’s statement from Biles and her coaches that she would not be participating in the next team event in a concerted effort to be ready, willing and able to compete in the individual competition opens the door for McCallums U of U teammate Mykayla Skinner. After her elimination earlier in the Games, Skinner knew to stay prepared to step back onto the mat as an alternate for COVID-related reasons. She certainly wasn’t thinking that a mental situation with Biles would be the catalyst for her possibly returning to the meet in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The third member of USA’s women’s gymnastics team representing the U of U, Kara Eaker, who traveled to Tokyo as an alternate, has been sidelined after a positive COVID test upon arrival.

McCallum and Jordan Chiles on NBC’s Today Show.

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