Elite gymnast and Isanti resident Grace McCallum just took another small step towards her ultimate goal of competing in the Olympics. But given the circumstances, that small step seemed more like a giant leap forward.

During the U.S. Championships, held in Kansas City, Missouri, over last weekend, the 16-year-old had three reasons to be grateful for finishing in third place – something some would see as a letdown. 

The first reason was receiving the bronze medal was one place higher than she finished a year before at the same meet. 

The second reason is McCallum had to overcome a disappointing first day of competition, one in which she fell on both beam and bars while ending the day in a tie for ninth place. Her second-day score of 56.950 was the second-best all around score of the night, which enabled her to leapfrog much of the competition and onto a place on the podium.

The third reason? Well, that can simply be summed up with one name: Simone Biles – the greatest women’s gymnast in history. 

Biles claimed her sixth national title by easily outscoring the second-place finisher (Sunisa Lee, who is also a Minnesotan) by five points. McCallum’s total of 111.850 was over six-and-a-half points behind Biles.

With her third-place finish, McCallum was again named to the U.S. National team, which means she will be considered for competing at the World Championships in October. If she is selected for that team, it will be her second time competing at Worlds. She was also selected for the 2018 team, where, with the help of Biles, the U.S. again won gold. 

Besides that, McCallum’s finish allows her to compete at the 2020 U.S. Olympic trials at the end of June. Another strong finish there will enable her to go through the rigorous and highly competitive Olympic team selection process, where this time around, only four girls will be selected to compete for team, all around and individual apparatus medals.

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