Motivation from parents fuels Suni Lee at U.S. World Championships

Lee is second in the all-around competition behind superstar Simone Biles.
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Suni Lee

St. Paul gymnast Suni Lee is putting on a show at the U.S. Gymnastics Championship this weekend but her biggest storyline may be what's happening in the stands.

Lee's parents, Houa John Lee and Yeev Thoj, were able to see her compete in person for the first time in three years as Lee used a difficult uneven bars routine to currently place second in the all-around competition.

Lee's path to the U.S. Championships has been filled with adversity. In August of 2019, her father fell off a ladder and injured his spinal cord, leaving him partially paralyzed. 

Suni Lee decided to go to nationals later that year and finished second in the all-around competition to Biles. At the world championships in October, she won a silver medal on floor exercise and a bronze on the uneven bars to go with a team gold medal with the U.S. national team.

With a spot on the U.S. national team within range, Lee injured her ankle and was limited to the uneven bars and beam in three earlier meets this season.

To build confidence for the Olympic trials in two weeks, Lee is thriving in her first all-around competition of 2021 at the U.S. Championships. Her score of 57.350 trails only Simone Biles (59.550) who is looking for her seventh U.S. all-around championship.

Lee's performance on the uneven bars is what has set her apart in the competition, posting a 15.300 on Saturday. The score is the highest on the bars and second-highest of any event, trailing Biles 15.800 score on the vault.

While the score puts her in a great position on Sunday's competition, it means even more with her parents making the 16-hour trip to the championships.

"It means a lot," John Lee told USA Today. "Especially now that Sunisa is getting close to the end of her (elite) gymnastics career and ... I’m able to come and watch it. It means a great deal."

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