After completing her sophomore year on the Auburn University gymnastics team, Sunilly will return to elite gymnastics and embark on a bid to once again represent Team USA at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Lee, who became the first Asian-American to win an all-around gymnastics gold medal at Tokyo 2020, has announced her intention to quit college gymnastics and pursue Olympic glory. video It was posted on her Instagram account on November 15th.
“I have my sights set on Paris 2024 and I know what I have to do to get there,” Lee says in the video. “I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work.”
In the fall of 2021, just weeks after competing in the Tokyo Olympics, Lee joined the Division I Auburn Gymnastics team and won an overall gold medal, as well as a team silver medal and an individual bronze medal on uneven bars.As a freshman at Auburn, she The most decorated year in the program’s historywon the NCAA championship on the beam, finished runner-up in all-around, and earned eight national honors.
Lee’s sophomore (and final) season at Auburn kicks off with the annual preview meeting in December.have her tickets for the season to see her perform in person already sold out――2 years in a row.
“If you love Auburn, Auburn will love you,” Lee told SELF in Fall. “They are absolutely amazing.”
As Lee explained in the video, it was her dream to fight in Auburn, but the “indescribable feeling” of fighting on the biggest stage in the world was one she wasn’t ready to leave. “I don’t want it to be a once in a lifetime experience,” she said.
The path from the Olympics to college and back to the Olympics was unprecedented for a U.S. female gymnast. NBCSports(MyKayla Skinner was approached as an alternate candidate for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, then competed at the University of Utah and then made the Tokyo team.)
Competing at the college level used to mean retiring from the elite world. 1992 Olympian Betty Okino said that until about 2000, college gymnastics “didn’t have that kind of excitement and fascination” of elite competition. Washington Post. In fact, according to the outlet, only one athlete from each of the last two Olympic teams before the Tokyo Olympics qualified for the NCAA.
But in the last 20 years, things have changed. Major television networks began broadcasting college competitions, schools began selling out venues, engaging routines by college gymnasts like Naia’s Dennis and Kaitlyn’s Toucans went viral, and colleges Gymnastics has spread all over the world. mainstream public.
Another big reason collegiate gymnastics is becoming more appealing to those who have ever competed for Team USA? Previously, the NCAA had strict rules regarding amateurism. Athletes could not profit from their name, image, or likeness (NIL) and could not compete for school. This means that if an athlete achieves Olympic fame in their teens, they will lose their college eligibility, so they cannot make commercials or accept approval while the iron is still hot. from, NCAA amended policy Suspended previous rules and allowed athletes to benefit from their own NIL.
All these changes in the collegiate gymnastics world mean the Paris Games could become a competition like no other. ESPNtwo other members of the Tokyo 2020 team, Jordan Childs and Jade Carey, are already competing simultaneously at the college and elite levels.
And now Lee is throwing her name into the mix.
“I always had that little voice in the back of my mind that I wanted to try again because I wasn’t done with the elite,” Lee told ESPN. I know I need to dedicate that time to have the chance to represent my country again and this decision has allowed me to do so. rice field.”