Where is Grace McCallum? (2024)

It won’t be a surprise later this summer at the Paris Olympics when Team USA is represented in women’s gymnastics by multiple Olympians who competed at the Tokyo Games.

Simone Biles is a runaway favorite to make the U.S. team, and Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles and Jade Carey all have excellent chances, too. All four women are three years removed from competing for Team USA in Japan.

By late Sunday evening, following the second day of the U.S. Olympic trials in Minneapolis, Minnesota, all four gymnasts very well may have earned another Olympic berth.

Noticeably absent from that group of gymnasts who competed for the U.S. in Toyko are MyKayla Skinner and Grace McCallum.

Skinner is retired from gymnastics and decidedly happy with where her life stands post-Tokyo.

McCallum isn’t done with gymnastics, however. Far from it in fact.

This past April, McCallum — a silver medalist in Tokyo — helped lead the University of Utah’s women’s gymnastics team to its fourth straight NCAA national championship meet. The Red Rocks, as the team is known, finished third in that competition, and McCallum was an integral part of that success.

An eight-time NCAA All-American, McCallum has thrived in college gymnastics, even while missing a substantial part of her sophom*ore season in 2023 with a knee injury.

All of which begs the question, where is McCallum? Why isn’t she competing at the U.S. Olympic trials alongside her former teammates for the chance to go to the Paris Olympics?

Why isn’t Grace McCallum trying for the Paris Olympics?

Where is Grace McCallum? (1)

There was a time following the Tokyo Olympics when McCallum considered a return to elite gymnastics to try and make it to Paris for this summer’s Olympics.

Following both her freshman and sophom*ore seasons at Utah, she didn’t rule it out and in April 2023, following the NCAA championships, she told the Deseret News, “I am still thinking about it, but I am leaning towards more college. Just because I love it here (at Utah) so much. I have never felt so much support from a gymnastics community. And I have just been having so much fun with it. I mean, I love elite too, but college is a completely different feeling, so less stressful.”

“It is a touchy subject and it is hard because all my teammates from the Olympics are going back,” she added. “It is kind of hard, because I feel like I have to, just because they are, but I don’t want to feel like I have to just because they are. ... I think about it all the time, whether or not I want to go back. This decision is a literally killing me. We will see. ... I am going to have to make it by the end of the summer.”

McCallum never officially announced that she wasn’t going to return to the elite gymnastics world, but this past spring it became clear that a return wasn’t her future in gymnastics as she competed at only NCAA gymnastics events.

Others intent on trying to get to Paris either deferred the NCAA season — like Chiles or Florida’s Kayla DiCello — or trained for both college and elite gymnastics — like Carey and Florida’s Leanne Wong — competing at the NCAA level while also attending Team USA camps and trying to earn spots in competitions.

McCallum even watched up close as Utah teammate Amelie Morgan — a Toyko Olympian for Great Britain — attempted to make elite return of her own, but McCallum’s heart, it turns out, was set on the University of Utah.

“She dabbled with the idea of elite a little bit,” Utah head coach Carly Dockendorf said this past spring, “... but she is a huge team player and she wants the best for this team and I think she just really wants to be able to elevate the scores for this program on every event and do her part.”

What Grace McCallum is focused on instead of the Paris Olympics

Where is Grace McCallum? (2)

When you hear her speak about her career, McCallum’s focus becomes clear quickly.

Gymnastics is of real importance in her life, but the rising senior has a mature understanding of its place in everything.

That is that four years of college is but a small portion of what she hopes will be a long and fulfilled life.

“I think halfway through season is when it really hit me that wow, I only have one more year after this,” McCallum told the Deseret News in March. “It really helps you put things into perspective and really appreciate every moment you get out here and get to compete for this program, because there isn’t much time you are here. Four years feels like a lot of time when you are a freshman, but it really isn’t. It is only a small chunk of your life. So I’ve tried to really take it all in, and just enjoy being present in every moment.

“That has been my biggest motivation this year, just putting my 100% into practice and my schooling every day because I don’t get much time here and I want to make the most of it. I’m not going to regret putting all I have in now, in later years down the road.”

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MyKayla Skinner reflects on her U.S. Olympic trials experience during 2024 trials

While at Utah, McCallum has seen herself grow dramatically as a person. In the sport of gymnastics, sure, but perhaps more importantly away from it.

“I’ve seen growth in myself as an individual, in learning who I am and what I am capable of,” she said. “It is has been really cool to be part of a program like this that wants you to learn those things. That preaches learning how to become your own person and growing as an individual. I feel like I’ve learned a lot over these last three years being at Utah. I’ve really grown up and learned a lot about how to live on my own and do things away from home. It is hard. You always rely on your parents when you are at home for advice, and yeah you still have them, but it is different when they are not physically there. It is but about learning how to problem solve on my own and live life without my parents right there.”

With one more year of NCAA gymnastics available to her, McCallum believes Utah has been the right place for her to grow.

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And after an up-and-down freshman season that was defined by unreal expectation, followed by an injury-marred sophom*ore campaign, McCallum feels that she kind of came into her own as a college gymnast — and simply a collegian — this past season as a junior.

“This year is the year where I finally got into a rhythm, I finally know what I am doing,” she said. “I’ve gotten more comfortable going out there competing and being confident. And I’ve found more of my leadership role on the team and how I can add to that. It has been a slow process over the time when I’ve been here, kind of figuring out what I am doing.”

A lover of structure and order, McCallum has, it seems, come to be truly comfortable at Utah, as a gymnast and a person. And though the Olympics proved tempting for a time, she is happy where she is.

“It has been a great experience and I’m really glad I got to be here in Utah where it is such a safe, good environment to be in,” she said. “With lots of people to support you if you are going through anything or you do need some advice or help. It has been a great experience for me.”

Where is Grace McCallum? (2024)

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