After positive COVID test ends her Olympic hopes, Kara Eaker looks forward to competing with U of U gymnastics

‘No chance’ 18-year-old alternate can compete after completing quarantine, her father says.

Kara Eaker performs her balance-beam routine during the U.S. Classic gymnastics event in Indianapolis, Saturday, May 22, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Kara Eaker feels like she has something exciting on the horizon when she returns from Tokyo: her chance to compete for the Red Rocks at the University of Utah.

Eaker, an alternate for the USA Gymnastics team, on Monday became the first American Olympian to test positive for COVID-19 in Tokyo. A day later, her father, Mark Eaker, appeared on NBC’s Today show and said the 18-year-old is looking forward to moving on, including enrolling at the University of Utah this fall.

“There’s no chance for this Olympics. She’s out of it for sure. There’s no way she could complete her quarantine process before being called in to take over,” Mark Eaker said. “So the next step is going off to Utah and competing for the next four years for the Utah gymnastics team.”

Eaker caught the coronavirus even though she received the Pfizer vaccine three months ago. Her father said his entire household in Missouri got tested after learning she was positive, but all tests were negative.

Mark Eaker said he talked to his daughter Tuesday morning and “at first she was disappointed and a little upset.” But, she realized that she had little chance of actually competing and that to get that chance, one of her teammates would have had to become injured or ill. She didn’t want that, he said.

“She’s positive and upbeat,” he said, “and looking forward to getting home and getting off to college.”

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