Scott Stricklin

Leanne Wong: Balance On and Off the Beam

Leanne Wong has a resume that is about as impressive as they come.

She’s a pre-med student at the University of Florida who also owns her own custom bow and leotard business. Not to mention, she’s an eight-time All-American, SEC champion and world champion gymnast.

However, her journey to becoming a prominent gymnast didn’t begin on a mat, bar or beam. It began on the ice.

Wong leaves the ice for the gym

Wong began her athletic career at about four years old as an ice skater, but this was short-lived, she said. Instead, she turned to gymnastics, where competing on soft mats rather than the hard ice was much more enjoyable, she explained.

To say the switch worked out would be an understatement. The more experienced she became in the sport, the more medals she earned. Wong explained she realized she could make a career out of the sport after she won multiple state championships.

From there, the national and international accolades began to rack up. In 2018, Wong won the junior division all-around and floor exercise champion at the U.S. Championships. Additionally, she won the junior division all-around, vault and floor championships at the G.K. U.S. Classic.

Wong won the bronze medal on the balance beam at the 2019 U.S. Championships. That same year, she won the American Cup all-around, vault and beam. However, these accolades don’t rank as high as the gold medal she won about four months ago.

In the November of 2022, Wong helped Team USA win its sixth-straight World Championship team title. She described the experience as an honor to represent the United States.

Chomping the collegiate competition

Her collegiate career has been just as impressive despite the fact she’s just a sophomore.

In her freshman season, Wong won the SEC balance beam championship and was named to the All-SEC and SEC All-Freshman team. She added four more NCAA All-American honors by being named to the first team in vault, floor exercise and all-around and second team in uneven bars.

So far, she has continued her dominance as a sophomore. In her most recent outing, Wong posted a pair of 10.o’s, one on the bars and one on the beam, as the Gators defeated No. 18 Arkansas 197.875-197.400.

Both were her second perfect scores in each event this season, with the first coming against Auburn on January 13.

Balance on the beam, balance off the beam

As she dominates the balance beam and other events in gymnastics, Wong is currently attempting to balance life as an athlete, student and business owner. Wong is a pre-med student with the goals of being a medical doctor once her gymnastic career is over. Balance, she said, is difficult, but that she’s learned to prioritize the important things first.

Adding to her rigorous schedule as a pre-med student and a college athlete, Wong also owns Leanne’s Bowtique, a custom bow and leotard company she started. The idea for the bows came from an elective class she took in high school.

“For one of the assignments, I decided to hand-make a light pink bow. I loved the bow so much and began wearing it with all of my leotards. I soon ran out of leos that would match the color of the bow and began making bows of all different colors,” Wong wrote on the business’s website. “I soon had 10 different colored bows, then 20, then 40, and now have over 100 bows with all different designs.”

Her bows became popular in the gymnastics world as her popularity grew. With the implementation of NIL in collegiate athletics, Wong was able to turn her idea into a business. Overall, Wong said she takes being a role model seriously as she balances everything she does.

2024 Olympics

As Wong continues her UF gymnastics career while pursuing a career as a medical doctor, more accolades may be on the way for the world champion.

Prior to attending Florida, she was slated to compete in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo as one of four replacement gymnasts for Team USA. However, a teammate’s positive COVID test put the young athlete into quarantine and out of the competition.

With the 2024 Paris Olympics on the horizon, Wong said that while competing in the Olympics is a dream, she’s currently focused on school and life at Florida, but that competing in Paris is definitely on the table. She explained she is taking her training on decision making on a year-by-year basis.

In Tokyo, current and former Florida athletes combined to win 17 total medals, including nine gold medals, ranking third out of NCAA programs in total medal count. Additionally, UF itself would have finished number 17 in medal count at the Olympics if it was its own country.

Wong and the Gators face another tough opponent

Road to Nationals ranked Florida gymnastics third in their standings in February. The Gators, who are now 7-0 on the season, take on 15th ranked Missouri on Friday, their fifth-straight ranked opponent. Television coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on the SEC Network.

About Cam Parker

Cam is a fourth-year broadcast journalism sports and media major at the University of Florida. In addition to writing and recording radio trendings for WRUF, Cam covers North Florida HS football for The Prep Zone and Mainstreet Daily News and UF football and basketball for Inside the Gators.

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