Who Is Olympic Gymnastics Star Suni Lee? Here’s What You Need To Know

The women’s gymnastics squad representing Team USA kicks off Olympic competition the first weekend in Tokyo. Fans are excited for all the high-flying action and gravity-defying flips. Rising star Sunisa “Suni” Lee will certainly deliver during her first Olympics. She’s also set up for serious success after an already exciting year.

The 18-year-old from St. Paul, Minnesota graduated high school last month, qualified for the U.S. national team with a stunning performance at the Olympic Trials, and is ready to make her Tokyo debut.

Like Simone Biles, she’ll compete for an all-around medal and is shooting for gold in Japan. Here’s everything to know about the teen gymnastics star on Team USA Suni Lee:

Suni has been doing gymnastics for 12 years.

She began pursuing the sport at age 6 after watching videos on YouTube. “Once I started, I just couldn’t stop,” she told the New York Times. “It looked so fun, and I wanted to try it myself.” She currently trains at Midwest Gymnastics in Minnesota.


A post shared by Sunisa Lee (@sunisalee_)

Lee has won A LOT of awards, but this year alone, she became the 2021 U.S. uneven bars champion and balance beam silver medalist and the Winter Cup uneven bars champion and balance beam silver medalist. She took 2020 off, but in 2019, she was World team champion, floor exercise silver medalist and uneven bars bronze medalist, U.S. uneven bars champion, all-around silver medalist and floor exercise bronze medalist. Whew.

But, she almost quit the sport in 2020.

At the Olympic Trials last month, Suni automatically qualified for the team by placing second, behind Simone Biles. Her journey to Tokyo wasn’t all smooth sailing, though.

“I think the Olympics means more to me now because after it got postponed, I didn’t even want to do gymnastics anymore,” she told the Times. “I couldn’t motivate myself to get back into the gym after that. Just recently it started to click, and I realized I could be at the top with Simone.”


A post shared by Sunisa Lee (@sunisalee_)

Suni also faced personal hardship in 2020. She lost both an aunt and an uncle to COVID-19. “It just felt like it was one thing after another,” she said in March. “I was, like, jeez, how much can I take? It was just so stressful, and I started to get down on myself because there’s just really nothing that I could do about it. And that was the worst thing because it’s not something that I could have controlled.”

She is a star on the uneven bars.

Even though she took time off during 2020, Suni placed first at this year’s national championships and at the Olympic trials on the uneven bars.

“It’s just about as close to perfection as I think anyone can get,” former Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin said of Suni’s bar routine. “If one little thing goes wrong, the whole routine could essentially fall apart.”

The uneven bars is her main event, but she has also won awards for her floor routine. “I hate when people say that I’m just, like, a specialist,” Lee said. “I feel like sometimes people forget that I had a world medal on the floor.”

Fun fact: Suni’s fave event is the balance beam, per her Olympic bio.

She FaceTimes with her dad for pep talks.

Her father John’s words of encouragement “have become something of legend within elite gymnastics circles,” according to ESPN. After a fall from a ladder in 2019, he became paralyzed and unable to attend gymnastics meets.”When Suni started competing as an elite, I traveled with her almost everywhere,” he told the sports network. Their family is blended, and though he is not her biological father, she decided to take his last name “Lee” when she was a child.

Even though the gymnastics competitions start at 3:45 AM Minnesota time, the family will be watching.


A post shared by Sunisa Lee (@sunisalee_)

Suni will attend Auburn University for college in the fall.

She’s officially a Tiger, and she will compete on the school’s gymnastics team. “Being committed to Auburn has been one of my biggest dreams for a long time,” she told The Auburn Plainsman in March. She verbally committed to the team at age 14. “I knew that if I made it to college, my life would be safe. But then I realized that I could be an Olympic hopeful; then it started getting serious.”


A post shared by Sunisa Lee (@sunisalee_)

But she’s looking forward to college for other reasons, too. “I think I just wanted to have a real college experience and to be able to have fun,” she said. “Not saying I don’t have fun now but being an elite gymnast it’s so limited because you’re always in the gym, and that’s all I focus on. I’m already not, like, a normal teenager; I don’t go to football games and all that stuff. But when I get to college, it feels like it’s going to be so much more fun, I guess, and like, free.”

Suni also enjoys getting glammed up for photos.

When she’s not in a leo, Suni shares selfies with full makeup and some adorable lewks on the ‘gram.


A post shared by Sunisa Lee (@sunisalee_)


A post shared by Sunisa Lee (@sunisalee_)

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