After finishing her sophomore 12 months on the Auburn College gymnastics crew, Suni Lee will make the transition again to elite gymnastics—and embark on a bid to signify Workforce USA as soon as once more on the 2024 Olympic Video games in Paris.
Lee, who turned the primary Asian-American to win all-around gymnastics gold on the 2020 Tokyo Video games, introduced her resolution to go away collegiate gymnastics and pursue Olympic glory with a video posted on her Instagram account on November 15.
“I’ve my sights set on Paris in 2024, and I do know what I’ve to do to get there,” Lee mentioned within the video. “I sit up for rolling up my sleeves and placing within the work.”
Lee joined the Division I Auburn gymnastics crew within the fall of 2021, simply weeks after competing on the Tokyo Video games, the place she earned a crew silver medal and particular person bronze on the uneven bars along with her all-around gold. As a freshman at Auburn, she had the most adorned 12 months in this system’s historical past, profitable an NCAA championship in beam and incomes runner-up within the all-around, in addition to eight All-American honors.
Lee’s sophomore (and last) season at Auburn will start in December with their annual preview meet. Season tickets to observe her carry out in particular person have already offered out—for the second 12 months straight.
“For those who love Auburn, Auburn will love you,” Lee advised SELF earlier within the fall. “They’re completely wonderful.”
Competing for Auburn was a dream of hers, as Lee defined in her video, however the “indescribable emotion” of competing on the world’s greatest stage was one thing she wasn’t fairly able to stroll away from. “I don’t need it to be simply as soon as in a lifetime,” she mentioned.
If she does make a repeat, it’ll be a historic one. The trail of Olympics to varsity adopted by again to Olympics has by no means been performed earlier than for a feminine US gymnast, in response to NBC Sports activities. (MyKayla Skinner got here shut as an alternate for the 2016 Video games in Rio, adopted by competing for the College of Utah, after which making the Tokyo crew.)
Beforehand, competing on the collegiate degree meant a retirement from the elite world. Up till round 2000 or so, school gymnastics “didn’t have that pleasure and that attract” of elite competitors, Betty Okino, a 1992 Olympian, advised The Washington Submit. In actual fact, in response to the outlet, just one athlete from every of the final two Olympic groups previous to Tokyo competed within the NCAA.
Over the past 20 years, although, there’s been a change: Main TV networks have begun broadcasting collegiate meets, faculties have began promoting out their venues, and spellbinding routines by school gymnasts like Nia Dennis and Katelyn Ohashi have gone viral, bringing school gymnastics to the mainstream public.
One other large purpose that now makes school gymnastics extra interesting to those that have competed for Workforce USA? Beforehand, the NCAA had strict guidelines concerning amateurism—athletes couldn’t revenue off their title, picture, or likeness (NIL) and nonetheless compete for the faculties. That meant if an athlete soared to Olympic fame as a teen, they wouldn’t have the ability to do issues like make commercials or settle for endorsements whereas the iron was nonetheless sizzling, since it will void their school eligibility. However starting in July of 2021, the NCAA amended its coverage and suspended the prior guidelines, permitting athletes to learn from their very own NIL.
All of those modifications within the collegiate gymnastics world means the Paris Video games could be a contest like no different. Based on ESPN, two different members of the 2020 Tokyo crew, Jordan Chiles and Jade Carey, have already been competing concurrently on the collegiate and elite ranges—that means there are a number of potentialities for an Olympic-collegiate-Olympic trajectory for Paris.
And now, Lee is throwing her title into that blend.
“I’ve all the time had this tiny voice behind my thoughts telling me I wasn’t performed with elite and needed to present it one other shot,” Lee advised ESPN. “As you close to the tip of an Olympic cycle and get nearer to the Video games themselves, coaching ramps up to some extent the place it’s fully a full-time job… I do know that to have the most effective shot to signify my nation once more, I must dedicate that point, and this resolution permits me to try this.”