Future Auburn Tiger Sunisa Lee Wins Olympic Gold in Gymnastics All Around
In the fall, Sunisa Lee will begin her collegiate career at Auburn University. But first? Well, she's been pretty busy representing the United States in gymnastics in the Tokyo Olympics and today, this future Tiger won Olympic gold! She is the 6th American woman to earn gymnastics most coveted prize and the fifth in a row. She joins a list of names that include Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin, Gabby Douglas, and of course, her teammate, Simone Biles. Lee's dynamic and near flawless performances today on all of the events—from uneven bars to balance beam to vault and finally floor routine—garnered her a total score of 57.433, just surpassing Brazil's Rebeca Andrade who earned silver with a score of 57.298. We congratulate Andrade also, as her silver medal is the first medal of any kind for her country in Olympic history. Angelina Melnikova of ROC grabbed the bronze.
It has been a dramatic week for Team USA Gymnastics with the news of Biles withdrawing from the team event final and as the intended other American representative in this All-Around Individual competition. But through it all, Lee has remained focused and calm. Competing through adversity is nothing new for Lee. Just ahead of the 2019 National Championships, her father John had a serious fall that resulted in him becoming partially paralyzed. She carried on with the competition and finished second to Biles—a feat she repeated this past June to make the Olympic team.
Lee has spoken often about the close bond she shares with her father and in an earlier interview with TODAY, John told Craig Melvin John spoke about how committed he was to doing whatever he could to help her make her dream of competing in the Olympics a reality. "I couldn't afford a real beam, so I built her one," the proud dad told Melvin. The beam is still in their backyard today. John also told his daughter that one day, when she made the Olympics someday, he would be there with her. As we all know now, due to COVID restrictions, family members of Olympians were not able to go with them. But we think Lee just might have been able to hear the cheers of her entire family all the way from Minnesota. Check out the video below as captured by local news KARE11 of their reaction the moment she won gold.
Lee's family weren't' the only ones to wake up early to catch the competition live. Her future team at Auburn were also supporting her.
If you're wondering how the St. Paul, Minnesota, native decided on Auburn, it turns out she has a very special tie to the school. Her current coach, Jess Garba is the twin brother of Jeff Garba, Auburn Gymnastics Head Coach. We think that will help make the transition from Olympian to collegiate athlete a smooth one.
Congratulations Suni! War Eagle!