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Kansas City-area gymnasts Kara Eaker, Leanne Wong serve as replacement athletes for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Kara Eaker and Leanne Wong
Leanne Wong, Kara Eaker
Posted at 10:01 PM, Jun 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 12:55:17-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two gymnasts from the Kansas City area will be joining the US Olympic Gymnastics Team as replacement athletes for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Kara Eaker and Leanne Wong, who both train at the Great American Gymnastics Express in Blue Springs, competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials in St. Louis.

Eaker came in 7th overall and Wong 8th overall after two days of trials.

Wong, a senior at Blue Valley High School, is also a 2021 U.S. floor exercise bronze medalist, a 2019 U.S. balance beam bronze medalist, a 2019 Pan American Games team champion and a 2019 American Cup Champion.

"She had an amazing night. This is what she's capable of, but because of nerves, things happen. But, I'm so proud of her - that she was able to overcome it and come back so strong," Wong's mother, Bee Ding said.

"I was so nervous. You don't even know how nervous I was. I was like shaking all the way until the last event. I couldn't even stay still. My hand was shaky. I told my husband, 'Can you feel it?' I was shaking until the last event, which is the bar," Ding said.

Eaker, also a senior at Grain Valley High School, is a 2019 U.S. balance beam silver medalist, a 2019 Pan American Games team and balance champion, a 2018 World team champion and a 2018 U.S. balance beam silver medalist.

"It's incredible. We don't even have the words right now. We're still just trying to process it, but she has worked so hard and has been so determined and passionate. She loves what she's doing. This is just icing on the cake," mother Katherine Eaker said.

"We're like, 'It's over. It's great. Now we can just go off to college. We're good.' And then wow," dad Mark added.

The women will travel with the team to Tokyo and will stand by to compete should something go awry with the six women selected to compete.

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