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Olympic Gold Medalist Suni Lee Steps Away from Gymnastics Due to Kidney Condition

Olympic Gold Medalist Sunisa “Suni” Lee announced she’d cut her college career short due to a kidney problem.

Lee, an Auburn University sophomore, won an all-around individual gold medal at the 2020 Olympics, began competing at the university in January 2021, and won two medals (one gold) at last year’s national championships.

The Minnesota native has said she is thankful to her doctors who have treated her medical condition. “I am blessed and thankful to be working with the best-specialized team to treat and manage my diagnosis.”

I have been dealing with a non-gymnastics related health issue involving my kidneys,” she said. “My focus is on my health and my recovery.”

The 20-year-old says that ending her college career early is challenging, but she still has “sights set on Paris in 2024, and I know what I have to do to get there.” 

“In fact, this experience has sharpened my vision for the future,” she said.

Auburn head gymnastics coach Jeff Graba said, “We are immensely fortunate and blessed to have had Suni be a part of our team these last two years…it was rewarding to see her not only achieve a lot of her collegiate goals but to watch her become a great teammate as well.”

The gymnast has said that competing for Auburn University was a dream of hers, and she’s learned about “myself, true teamwork, and about community during my time here.”

Graba said the University would put its student athletes’ health ahead of athletic performance. 

“In this case, we felt like we made the best decision for her health and future. We are so excited to cheer Suni on as she pursues another Olympic dream and can’t wait to see what else is in store for her,” he said. 

Lee is the first-ever Hmong-American gold medalist and had the most decorated year in Auburn gymnastics history, according to her bio on the school’s website. She won eight All-American honors, the national championship on the balance beam in 2022, and was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year. 

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