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After winning Olympic silver medal, Utes gymnast Grace McCallum is ready for Red Rocks big expectations

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The acclaimed freshman will launch the Huntsman Center on Friday night

(Jeff Roberson | AP) Grace McCallum after competing on the bar during the Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Competition in the United States on Sunday, June 27, 2021, in St. Louis.

Utah’s gymnastics team has seen a number of elite gymnasts throughout the years, but perhaps none has had a more anticipated appearance than Grace McCallum.

With that anticipation comes pressure.

“There are expectations,” the Utah freshman said. “I think this team can be special and it depends on us working hard and pushing each other to give our best every day. I hope I can contribute and be a positive influencer.”

McCallum knows a thing or two about dealing with pressure.

Gymnast Ute started her college career right from appearing at the 2020 Olympics, where She had a bigger-than-expected role in the American silver medal’s ending. McCallum competed in all four events, star after event Simone Biles was suddenly withdrawn from the contest. She’s the lead gymnast, one of the toughest positions on the roster since she set the tone for the team.

McCallum handled the pressure well, hitting all of her routines in the competition. Although the Americans did not win the gold as expected, behind Russia, McCallum’s reputation was helped, not tarnished, by her efforts.

Getting her on the Utah campus was something Utah coach Tom Farden had long hoped for, going back to the days when he first got to know her when McCallum’s coach called him and said that he needs to keep an eye on the rising 12-year-old star. .

Red Rock Preview

Utes will host the annual Red Rocks event at 7 p.m. Friday at the Huntsman Center. The event is open to the public and will be televised by Pac-12 Networks. Fans are encouraged to wear masks.

“She was a hard-working gymnast who completed her workouts at a brisk pace,” says Farden. “When you see that, see someone get past them and then move on to something else to move on, you wonder where that’s going to take them.”

Undoubtedly, she had arrived in Salt Lake City, ready to help Utah achieve her lofty goals.

McCallum didn’t stay with Utes as long as many of her teammates, as she’s already on a post-Olympic tour, but is still expected to have plenty to show off to fans when the Utes host their annual Red Rocks event on Friday at the Huntsman Center.

McCallum is interested in seeing what it will be like at the Huntsman Center as fans are likely to get to witness her skills first-hand.

“I am delighted,” she said. “I love competing and college is a whole new experience. This team works really hard and I know they will push me to be a better gymnast. ”

That attitude is just what Farden likes about McCallum. In addition to her natural skills, McCallum is a hard worker who doesn’t plan on treating the Utes’ season as another post-Olympic tour she wants to keep pushing.

“She came from the same gym as (current Ute) Abby Paulson, another hard worker,” Farden said. “She’s from Minnesota and I love the Minnesotan spirit of rolling up my sleeves and working hard. She is a competitor and she is humble.”

The Utes have one of the strongest teams in history, with a roster that goes at least eight in every event, but McCallum is talented enough to compete on everything. She has a 10.0 arch and has a difficult habit of balancing beams and floors. Her irregular bar habits will be one that fans won’t want to miss.

“She has strength but also a great blend of artistry,” says Farden. “She lagged a bit because she was on tour and we had to be smart with her training, but she jumped right back in.”

Utes returns to all but one routine from their NCAA roster and welcomes other talented freshmen in Kara Eaker, an Olympic substitute, Amelie Morgan, an Olympic Athlete for Great Britain, and Sage Thompson, a three-time Olympic national qualifier.

Even though she’s a college rookie, McCallum knows there’s going to be a lot of pressure on the Utes to do well in the upcoming season based on the strength of the roster.

McCallum said life has been cloudy since the Olympics and she hasn’t had time to really process what she’s done. But she’s also thinking about her future and what she can do for the Utes, which finished third at the NCAA Championship.

“Being in the Olympics is something I’ve wanted to do all my life,” McCallum said. “But competing in college would also be something great. Getting into the atmosphere of 15,000 fans will be really exciting.”

https://www.sltrib.com/sports/utah-utes/2021/12/17/after-winning-olympic/ After winning Olympic silver medal, Utes gymnast Grace McCallum is ready for Red Rocks big expectations

Beth Allcock

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