HomeTop StoriesSuni Lee is recovering from a debilitating kidney disease ahead of the...

Suni Lee is recovering from a debilitating kidney disease ahead of the Paris Olympics

Olympic all-round gymnastics champion Suni Lee revealed that at the height of her kidney disease last year, she wondered whether a return to top form was possible.

“My motivation started to drop,” Lee said at Team USA’s media summit this week.

“I couldn’t bend my legs one bit, I couldn’t squeeze my fingers, my face was swollen,” Lee said, noting that she was holding 45 pounds of water weight. “I looked like a completely different person. It was very, very miserable.”

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She said she lived with constant pain, nausea and dizziness.

“We have it under control now,” she said. “We know what to do and what medications to take.”

The then 18-year-old Lee was thrust into the spotlight during the Tokyo Games when teammate and reigning Olympic champion Simone Biles unexpectedly dropped out due to her mental health in the middle of the team final. Lee was not in the original lineup for the U.S. team’s floor exercise, but scored a team-best 13.666 to help the Americans claim a silver medal.

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Suni Lee

CBS


A few days later, Lee became the fifth straight American woman to win the Olympic all-around title, with a dazzling set on uneven bars – her signature event – ​​to defeat Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade in a tight final that made Lee a star.

She attended Auburn University, but left the Tigers after becoming ill after her sophomore season last year. It was never certain that she would come back to Paris, but now she is expected to play on the US team, along with Biles, who is also returning.

“At first I decided I wanted to come back because I was really just getting better and I love gymnastics,” Lee said. “I wasn’t ready to be done yet and I wanted to prove to myself that I could be better than I was at the last Olympics.”

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Lee is working on a new bar move that, if she succeeds in an international competition, could be named after her in the sport’s Code of Points.

She said she had a strong support system at home in Minneapolis, which helped her get back on track to the Olympics.

“I was learning my new skill and was still able to master it even at less than 100%,” she said. “It made me realize how much better I was than I thought.”

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