“Didn’t Know What Was Wrong With Me”: Suni Lee Forced to Step-Away From Sports Breaks Silence on Harsh Reality of Battling Illness Ahead of World Artistic Gymnastics Championships 2023

Published 10/04/2023, 1:51 PM EDT

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Sunisa Lee, 20, from St. Paul, Minnesota has overcome an array of setbacks over the last four years. Despite all odds, she stepped up to take the all-around lead in her Olympic Games debut and has become America’s pride since then. She effortlessly balanced her newfound stardom with the Met Gala and ESPY Awards, as well as a stint on Dancing with the Stars. The following year, she joined Auburn and continued her gymnastics journey as an NCAA athlete capitalizing on NIL deals. Last year, the Asian-American role model earned all-around silver and balance beam gold in the NCAA Championship.

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However, everything changed for the young athlete this year after she was diagnosed with a severe health scare. Lee was unsure when she would get onto the mats again. However, her Olympic aspirations kept her at the end of the queue before losing the Worlds qualifier. As she is now recovering, the gymnast shares an exclusive account of her battle.

Sunisa Lee talks about making bold decisions amid uncertainty

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The infamous “Suni,” Sunisa, missed the inaugural global qualifying round for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Everything came to a halt when the doctor advised her to quit practice post kidney issues diagnosis, forcing her to leave Auburn mid-term. She did, however, take part in two of the four routines during the national gymnastics championships, coming in last. A recent article by self.com posted her as a cover story where Suni candidly confessed, “We didn’t know what was possible. We didn’t know what was wrong with me.” 

The diagnosis was painful, before Core Hydration Classic went underway, Lee shared the harsh reality of her illness. She said, “I could wake up very swollen some days and not be able to put my fingers inside my grips. It’s really difficult to kind of work through.” She wasn’t just stepping into the mats as the first Hmong to win the Olympic all-around but also posed a threat to Simone Biles making her comeback after two years.

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After Sunisa Lee’s Tearful Comeback, Simone Biles Sends a Bold Message: “Take That Break”

“And here I am on the big stage, competing,” she said, despite all odds, earned the second-highest score of the day on beam(14.5) and a 13.5 on vault.  Donning a purple and gray leotard, she put up a brilliant artistic performance and looked over the cheering audience. She ran her sight over the USA Gymnastics physician and her coach and finally let the tears roll down her face. She felt emotional and proud of herself beyond anything else.

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Update on Sunisa Lee’s route to the 2024 Paris Olympics

Lee knew it was crucial to make it to the Team USA roster to make her way to the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Failing to make it to the top five, she also refused the Worlds selection camp invite, the gymnast is now at a disadvantage and left with slimmer chances of being chosen to represent the United States once again at the Games.

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Lee is seizing the opportunity to enhance her performance in apparatus routines after expressing her strong desire to make a comeback to international competition earlier this year. Next year, there will be opportunities for individual routine champions to secure a berth. While her return to the mats is challenging, it’s not entirely unattainable, considering her future aspirations and the support she receives from her well-wishers.

Watch This Story: Simone Biles Made a Heartwarming Gesture to Suni Lee’s Dad

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Written by:

Divya Purohit

710Articles

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Divya Purohit is a sports writer at EssentiallySports specializing her coverage in American sporting events. She recently found US Sports writing to be a niche that she enjoys and began following sports. Divya enjoys researching and creating various pieces of articles.
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Edited by:

Suman Varandani

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