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KCUR follows the Kansas City athletes competing in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Kansas City Gymnast On USA Women's Team Tests Positive For COVID, Teammate Quarantined

Kara Eaker competes in the floor exercise during the women's U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials Friday, June 25, 2021, in St. Louis.
Jeff Roberson
Kara Eaker competes in the floor exercise during the women's U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials Friday, June 25, 2021, in St. Louis. Eaker tested positive for the coronavirus while in Tokyo and just days before the Games begin.

Kara Eaker tested positive at a training camp near Tokyo. Last month at the Olympic Trials, Eaker said she had been vaccinated. Her teammate, Leanne Wong, who is also from the Kansas City area is in quarantine.

On the final night of the USA Gymnastics Olympic trials, Kara Eaker, 18, of Grain Valley, Missouri, said it meant so much to her to have her training partner, Leanne Wong of Overland Park, Kansas, traveling with her to Tokyo as an alternate on the USA women’s gymnastics team.

Now both of them are in quarantine after Eaker tested positive for COVID and Wong because of contact tracing. Eaker’s positive test comes after she said, June 27, that she had been vaccinated. That same night, Wong said she had not been vaccinated.

John Cheng
Gymnast Kara Eaker, circled in photo, is joined on the podium by her teammate Leanne Wong, pictured to the right of Olympian Simone Biles, at the 2019 U.S. Championships in Kansas City. Both Eaker and Wong are now isolated in Tokyo due to coronavirus protocols.

“I’m so honored to be able to go with these girls,” said Eaker after learning that she had been selected as an alternate. She finished seventh in all-around competition at the trials.

USA Gymnastics said in a statement after Eaker’s positive test on Sunday, July 18, at the pre-Games training camp that Eaker and Wong would be subject to additional quarantine restrictions although the extent of the restrictions weren’t stated.

The statement continued: “Accordingly, on Monday, the Olympic athletes moved to separate lodging accommodations and a separate training facility, as originally planned, and will continue their preparation for the Games.”

Al Fong and his wife, Armine Barutyan-Fong, the co-owners of Great American Gymnastics Express (GAGE) where Eaker and Wong train, are not quarantined, but will remain with the gymnasts.

When Eaker was asked about traveling with Wong, she said, “I work with Leanne every day and I know how much that she puts in and that we do together.”

Now, together, they’ll need to work through the most difficult moments of their gymnastics careers.

Sports have an economic and social impact on our community and, as a sports reporter, I go beyond the scores and statistics. I also bring the human element to the sports figures who have a hand in shaping the future of not only their respective teams but our town. Reach me at gregechlin@aol.com.
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