The Olympic Trials process has concluded for all disciplines of gymnastics, and two future Gators have been named as alternates to the women’s artistic gymnastics team: incoming freshman Leanne Wong and five-star 2022 commit Kayla DiCello! Both will travel to Tokyo with the team, and though they will train separately, current USAG plans have them staying in the same accommodations as the team, which has not been the case in the past and may present a problem if COVID-19 become a factor.
On the off chance they are called up to compete, both Wong and DiCello are strong all-arounders that could make the AA final depending on who they were called upon to replace. Both had one miss apiece over the two-day competition, Wong on beam and DiCello on bars, but both showed floor scores that have event final potential as well – again, depending on which other Americans were competing. That qualifier is necessary, unfortunately, because international elite competitions like the Olympics have a “two per country” rule, where only two competitors from each nation are allowed to qualify to a final, thus preventing a full podium sweep from any country. If Wong or DiCello were called in in a non-COVID-related replacement situation, it would be very possible that they could be left out of an AA or FX final because they would have two higher-placing teammates. Below are Wong and DiCello’s best floor performances from the weekend.
Still, Wong and DiCello both earned their places on the replacement team for their merit as all-arounders, as National High Performance Director Tom Forster merely took the top 9 athletes in the all-around standings to compose the team and replacements. If a COVID-related situation were to necessitate a quarantine of the full team but not the alternates, these future Gators would be called upon as the top two all-arounders on the replacement team to hopefully qualify to the all-around final, though their fellow replacement athletes Kara Eaker and Emma Malabuyo are very close behind them in terms of scoring potential.
As it stands now, the report is that Wong will come to Gainesville in January, potentially in order to make a run at the 2021 World Championships, which the FIG chose not to postpone when the Olympics were moved to this year. With Biles likely focusing on her tour and then retiring, Jordan Chiles taking part in Biles’s Gold Over America tour throughout the fall, Sunisa Lee and Grace McCallum also headed to NCAA this coming season, and Mykayla Skinner’s stating that her body needs a rest after Tokyo, it’s possible that Wong could go into World selections as the top-ranked all-arounder in the U.S, which would make her a strong contender for the first World AA title in a post-Biles gymnastics world.
DiCello still has until the 2023 season before she dons the Orange and Blue, so it’s likely she will also make a run at the 2021 World Championships, as well as potentially 2022. With such a large class of athletes going to college, it’s entirely possible she could also become the first new U.S. national champion since Ragan Smith in 2017. Of the Olympic delegation, both competitive athletes and alternates, she may be the only one still competing once 2022 rolls around. Chiles, Lee, McCallum, Carey, Wong, Eaker, and Malabuyo are all headed to NCAA, and it’s likely Biles will retire. Mykayla Skinner, however, just announced that she will not be returning to Utah for her senior year, but the wording in her announcement was a little unclear regarding her status in elite going forward, so whether she is competition for DiCello going forward is, as of now, unknown.
Overall, the future looks bright for both Wong and DiCello, and it sounds as though they both have gas left in the tank for more accolades in elite gymnastics before making the transition to college. While we look forward to their years as Gators as potentially some of the most talented and dominant in Florida Gymnastics history, we can’t wait to see what they do on their elite journey until then.