Kara Eaker is looking forward to getting back into the swing of things — and moving on to new things — after spending the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in quarantine.
The Blue Springs gymnast qualified for Team USA as an alternate, but she was quarantined shortly after her arrival in Japan due to a positive COVID-19 test.
"It was pretty shocking to hear that I wouldn't be able to continue my training, but I didn't really feel it until a couple days into the quarantine, where it's like I have nowhere to go, I can't do anything," Eaker said.
While she enjoyed the alone time for the first few days, she said one of the hardest things about being quarantined was being inactive.
"It was pretty difficult, just dealing with not being able to do my normal routine at the gym, and just like see my teammates and the girls there," Eaker told KSHB 41 News.
On top of that, Eaker was dealing with sickness in a foreign country, with her parents on the other side of the world.
"It was really confusing at first, 'cause they had to check with all the officials and verify what I have to do," Eaker said. "It was a lot of 'what-if' scenarios that I was giving my parents so they didn't really have all of the information and were kind of like freaking out."
Eaker was among the small percentage of Americans to contract a breakthrough case of COVID-19.
"At first it was kinda scary that I was sick in the first place, but I didn't feel anything, and I had been vaccinated, so I didn't know how I could possibly have it," Eaker said.
The most she felt was a sore throat. She attributes her lack of symptoms to the vaccine.
While in quarantine, Eaker said she felt in a funk and didn't really follow the Olympics, or have much inspiration to sketch or do calligraphy.
Instead, she maintained contact with family and friends through FaceTime, and relied on Netflix and TikTok for entertainment while confined to her hotel room.
Eaker said there was more confusion at the airport when it was time to come home. She said conflicting messages complicated matters, but in the end, she was able to get home.
At the airport back in Kansas City, her parents awaited her with open arms and plenty of tears.
"It was so great to see them and know that I was home and that they could be relieved of that stress," Eaker said.
Eaker surprised her little sister at band camp, where she said the pair of them nearly took a couple people out as they ran to each other.
Now, Eaker is looking forward to college.
She plans to focus more on school than on international competition in the coming years.
Nevertheless, she said she's excited to meet her teammates at the University of Utah, "move around and get back in the routine of training."
Fellow Team USA gymnast Grace McCallum also attends the school, and Mykayla Skinner is an alumna.
Both women are silver medalists at the 2020 games.