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American Sunisa Lee Wins Gold in Artistic Gymnastics Individual All-Around
After Simone Biles’ early exit from the competition, it appeared improbable an American gymnast would claim a fifth-consecutive all-around — until 18-year-old Olympic newcomer Suni Lee stepped up to deliver the nation’s sixth such title with a performance for the ages.
While this was her Olympic debut, Lee is no stranger to competing at the biggest competitions. She’s a three-time World medalist with one of the best bar routines in the world. But, she traveled to Tokyo without gold on her radar — a product of having one of the greatest gymnasts of all time as a teammate. And then Biles withdrew and suddenly she was thrust into the spotlight.
Lee posted the second-highest score in qualifying with a 57.166, ahead of Russian Olympic Committee’s Angelina Melnikova (57.132) and behind Brazil’s Rebecca Andrade (57.399).
Andrade took the early lead with a near-perfect Cheng vault that earned her 15.300, with American Jade Carey not far behind (15.200) and Lee in fifth. Lee quickly answered with a difficult routine on the bars that scored 15.300 to pull into second behind Andrade (29.966 and 29.900).
A quick catch saved Lee from disaster on the beam, although her 13.833 was still significantly lower than her qualifying score. Nevertheless, Andrade’s 13.666 put Lee (43.733) in the lead heading into the final rotation, although Andrade (43.632), Vladislava Urazova (43.566), and Angelina Melnikova (43.233) all remained contenders.
Lee opted for a floor routine with three tumbling passes instead of four, focusing on strong execution. She earned a solid 13.700 but left the door open for Andrade, who performed afterward. Needing a 13.802 to win, a pair of costly missteps ultimately left Andrade with a 13.666, and Lee with the gold medal.
For Lee, the euphoria of gold was the culmination of a lifetime's worth of dedication and hard work, as well as the needed happy ending to the two most challenging years of her life. During that span, her father suffered a debilitating accident, she lost a pair of family members to Covid-19, and experienced several injuries including broken bones and a damaged Achilles tendon.
After the competition, Lee spoke about what this medal meant for her. “The past two years have been absolutely crazy with Covid and my family and everything else. There was a point in time when I wanted to quit and I just didn’t think I would ever be here, including injuries and stuff,” she said. “So there are a lot of emotions, but I’m definitely super proud of myself for sticking with it and believing in myself.”
We are proud of Suni too! Her dedication, perseverance, and confidence are superpowers we can all look up to. #unleashyoursuperpower
Are you a bars queen like Suni? Check out grips like hers here.