None of that compares to what the Isanti, Minnesota, native experienced on her return home, though.
On Tuesday, McCallum returned to her club gym — Twin City Twisters — to a heartwarming scene. Her teammates, young and old, formed a welcoming line in front of the gym’s entrance and cheered her on while John Williams’ “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” played in the background.
There were red, white and blue streamers and confetti and a red carpet made of gym mats leading to an American flag and McCallum’s name laid out on the floor of the gym.
While it wasn’t the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games themselves, the celebration was an indication of how much McCallum’s success means to her teammates and coaches.
On Monday, Steve Hafeman, coach and owner of Twin City Twisters, wrote in a Facebook post about McCallum, “Words cannot even begin to express how proud I am of this young lady! Grace, you have taught me so much over the years and continue to amaze so many of the people in your life. To become an Olympian, it takes much more than exceptional talent. It starts with a dream and requires an unbelievable work ethic, holding yourself to the highest standards possible, a never give up attitude, a strong support system and perfect timing. To add to this challenge, you have to perform when it matters the most and you did just that!
“The fact that you have defied the odds and battled through so many challenges throughout the years to be make your dreams come a reality is beyond inspiring! One of my favorite parts about you earning this spot on the team to Tokyo, is that you 100% deserve it!! Name a quality any coach or parent values…you’ve got it! Kind, smart, humble, I could go on and on…but my point is that good things happen to good people! Grace keep being you, THE AMAZING GRACE!”
After undergoing surgery on her hand in January, McCallum didn’t actually believe she’d make the Olympic team.
“I was kind of devastated,” she said Monday during a press conference. “I thought my Olympic dreams were gone because the recovery was gonna be long. At the time, bars was my best event ... where I was in January, a 15 was my goal (on bars). It was really hard for me to process knowing I’d have to relearn everything again.”
Entering the second day of trials, though, she knew she had a genuine shot at achieving her lifelong goal, and after a text of encouragement from former Twin City Twisters teammate Maggie Nichols — an elite former gymnast at Oklahoma — McCallum pulled it off.
“My goal was always to be in (an Olympic) position,” McCallum said Monday. “I just knew I needed to work my butt off to get there. It’s been a long process but I’m really happy with where I’ve come.”