KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Overland Park native Leanne Wong will be competing in the gymnastics Olympic Trials in St. Louis this weekend.
The 17-year-old, who is part of the GAGE Center in Blue Springs, will be going against fellow GAGE gymnast Kara Eaker. The first round starts on Friday.
“It’s incredibly exciting to see that she can compete with really the best in the world and it’s an amazing experience,” Marco Wong, Leanne’s Dad said.
The family never expected their little girl, who loved to flip and turn, to one day to be heading to the Olympic Trials.
“It’s pretty hard to believe that it actually could happen and I guess it kind of teaches us don’t be afraid to dream. Think big,” Marco Wong said.
Leanne’s love for the sport started at a young age.
Before she started gymnastics, she tried ice skating, but she wasn’t a fan.
Her mom said once she started gymnastics and started competing, she started winning constantly.
“Level four, level five, level six, the only level she didn’t win as level eight. But from (age) four to 10, she won state championship,” Bee Ding, Leanne’s Mom said.
Her rare talent stood out to Al Fong, the owner of the GAGE Center where she trains in Blue Springs. The center has produced several Olympians.
“Al said, ‘Yeah I think she has some kind of talent here. We want to proceed beyond that, perhaps training her as elite,'” Ding said.
The then 13-year-old decided she would go elite, and it’s paying off as she is close to competing in the Olympics in Tokyo.
While she works to accomplish her goal, her family will be in the stands cheering her on.
“My youngest one, Brenden, he is only nine. He is very involved. He checks YouTube video, watching all the competitors, watching all the commentary and he always points out the things that some gymnasts fans will critique all the events,” Ding said.
The youngest Wong even gave his sister a pep talk before championships recently with all of his gymnastics knowledge.
“He said, ‘This is what you are going to do Leanne. You gotta be consistent and if you can do this and you hit this and get this score, you are definitely going to be the top,'” Ding said.
The family said they are beyond excited about what their daughter has accomplished in life. Win or lose, they will forever be proud of their Leanne.
“Just to see that she can really perform at that level and train so hard and after all these years of training that…you can see her grow in so many ways. That’s been really exciting,” Marco Wong said.
The women’s first round of the Olympic Trials starts at 7 p.m. Friday on 41 Action News. The men’s final round is on Saturday and the women’s final round starts at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Leanne will attend the University of Florida in the fall and she will be on their gymnastics team.