KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After years of hard work and six days a week in the gym, Kara Eaker is keeping her cool and getting ready for the Olympic Trials in St. Louis.
âIt’s just kind of a shocking feeling, like it’s happening,â she said. âYou have to really think about doing gymnastics and not making a big deal out of it at the Olympic trials. “
Eaker is one of 18 women who will compete for a spot on the US Olympic gymnastics team and one of two from the Kansas City area. Eaker and Leanne Wong train at the GAGE ââCenter in Blue Springs.
For Eaker, the training to get to this point began over a decade ago with a little girl who beamed every time she went to gymnastics class where the family lived in Warrensburg.
“Very quickly her trainer was like ‘she has to go somewhere that she can go further,” said her mother, Katherine Eaker.
âIt wasn’t like, ‘I don’t want to go to train today.’ It was like, ‘It’s time to practice!’ You know? So we’re like, ‘OK, this is not going to go away,’ âsaid his father, Mark Eaker.
From a young age, Kara Eaker “always wanted to be there early and get there early and then she’s always like the last one out, always.”
This focus can come with sacrifice and pressure, but for Eaker it also comes with balance.
Despite a busy schedule, she devotes time to hobbies like calligraphy.
You can see beautiful handwritten quotes all over her bedroom. She went to prom and graduated from Grain Valley High School with a stellar GPA.
â4,57, graduated with advanced classes,â her mother said. âYes, we are proud of it,â his father agreed.
“We go to school from 7 a.m. to noon, then we have to be in the gym by 1 p.m. and we’re there until about 7 p.m.,” said Eaker, who said she wasn’t really speaking. gymnastics. at school.
She heads to college in the fall for gymnastics and to study engineering, another of her passions.
âThe idea of ââdoing something from scratch? I just like this idea, âshe said.
Her mother, Katherine, said her daughter was shy and humble through her successes.
âShe went above and beyond what we expected, you know we’re so proud of her and not just gymnastics,â Katherine said. “She’s an amazing student, an amazing person and these are the things that are most important to us.”
Eaker relies on his family, including his sister, Sara.
âShe’s my best friend. I don’t know where I would be without her,â Eaker said.
Mark Eaker says “she’s just an ordinary girl” – an ordinary 18-year-old girl who was also the 2018 and 2019 world team champion in gymnastics, among other accomplishments.
Eaker said her teammates, including Leanne Wong, were like extended family.
âI love training with Leanne. I mean, just watching her push herself to be her best, it just inspires me to push myself to my best, âshe said. âSometimes we don’t have the best days and it’s just that bond that keeps us going and just tells us it’s like, ‘It’s not over. It’s okay, we can do it. ‘”
Their bond reminds Eaker that she is “not alone in this case.”
While she strives for perfection, she also learns from her mistakes.
âForget it happened, but remember how to change it and how to fix it,â she said.
âYou just have to keep pushing and remembering why you are doing this in the first place,â she said.
Why is she doing it in the first place? It’s simple: âBecause I like it.
The US Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials begin for the women Friday night in St. Louis.
Eaker will be there, hoping to earn a spot on the US squad and go to Tokyo.