Sunisa Lee (born March 9, 2003) is a Hmong American artistic gymnast and part of the United States women's national gymnastics team. She was a member of the team that won gold at the 2019 World Championships, where she also won silver on the floor exercise and bronze on the uneven bars. She won three medals at the USA Gymnastics National Championships during her first year as a senior elite gymnast, including a national title on the uneven bars.
Lee was born to Hmong parents, Yeev Thoj and John Lee, in 2003. She has five siblings. She began gymnastics when she was six. She is of Hmong descent.
Lee competed in the Hopes division in 2015 and became a junior elite in 2016. She made her junior elite debut at the 2016 U.S. Classic. In 2017, she made her international debut at the Gymnix International Junior Cup, where the US won the gold medal in the team event and Lee won the silver medal on uneven bars. In May 2017, Lee verbally committed to Auburn University on a gymnastics scholarship.
Lee was named to the team to compete at the 2018 Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships. There, she won the gold medal with the U.S. team in the team final and won the silver medal on vault, balance beam, and floor exercise. She finished 4th in the all-around. On July 28, Lee competed at the 2018 U.S. Classic where she finished fifth in the all-around. She won the gold medal on balance beam despite not doing a dismount.
Lee competed in August at the 2018 U.S. National Championships in Boston as one of the favorites for the Junior national title along with Leanne Wong, Jordan Bowers, and Kayla DiCello. She won the bronze medal in the all-around behind Wong and DiCello and won the gold medal on bars.
In February, USA Gymnastics announced that Lee would made her senior debut at the 2019 City of Jesolo Trophy. There, she won the gold medal in the all-around and helped the U.S. win the gold medal in the team final. She also won the gold medal on bars and floor, as well as the bronze medal on beam behind reigning World Champion Liu Tingting of China and teammate Emma Malabuyo.
In June, Lee competed at the American Classic on only bars and beam. She placed second on beam and fifth on bars after falling off twice. After the conclusion of the American Classic, Lee was named as one of the eight athletes being considered for the team to compete at the 2019 Pan American Games along with Sloane Blakely, Kara Eaker, Aleah Finnegan, Morgan Hurd, Shilese Jones, Riley McCusker, and Leanne Wong.
At the 2019 GK US Classic, Lee opted to only compete bars and beam, where she placed second behind Morgan Hurd and joint-eighth with Hurd, respectively. She was not named to the Pan-American Games team.
At the 2019 U.S. National Championships, Lee competed all four events on the first day of competition and was in second place in the all-around behind Simone Biles and in first place on uneven bars. On the second day of competition, she continued performing clean routines and ended up winning the silver medal in the all-around behind Biles. She also won the gold medal on bars ahead of Morgan Hurd and Biles, placed fourth on beam behind Biles, Kara Eaker, and Leanne Wong, and won the bronze medal on floor behind Biles and Jade Carey. As a result, she was named a member of the national team.
In September, Lee competed at the US World Championships trials, where she placed second in the all-around behind Simone Biles, losing by only 0.350 points. The following day she was named to the team to compete at the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart alongside Biles, Kara Eaker, MyKayla Skinner, Jade Carey, and Grace McCallum. She was the only first-year senior named to the team and the only team member without prior World Championships experience.
During the qualification round at the World Championships, Lee helped the USA qualify to the team final in first place, over five points ahead of second place China. Individually, Lee qualified to the all-around final in second place behind teammate Biles despite a fall on the balance beam. She also qualified in second place behind Biles to the floor exercise final, beating out teammate Carey in a tiebreaker, and to the uneven bars final in third place behind reigning World Champion Nina Derwael of Belgium and 2015 World Champion Daria Spiridonova of Russia. Even with the fall on beam, Lee also would have qualified as a reserve for the balance beam finals, but was excluded by the two-per-country rule, as Biles and Eaker had both qualified in higher positions.
In the team final, Lee competed on uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise and helped the USA win the gold medal ahead of Russia and Italy. Although she fell again on balance beam, her score on uneven bars (14.733) was the third highest of the day behind Becky Downie of Great Britain and Spiridonova, and her score on floor exercise (14.233) was also the third highest of the day, behind teammates Biles and Carey. In the all-around final, Lee's floor exercise score was the second highest score of the day, once again behind Biles, but she finished in eighth place overall after an uncharacteristic fall off the uneven bars. For the uneven bars final, Lee performed a clean routine and earned a score of 14.800, winning the bronze medal behind Derwael and Downie. The following day, she competed in the floor final and won the silver medal behind Biles and ahead of Angelina Melnikova of Russia.
In late January it was announced that Lee would compete at the Stuttgart World Cup taking place in March. The Stuttgart World Cup was later canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany. In November Lee signed her National Letter of Intent with Auburn University.
In February Lee competed returned to competition at the 2021 Winter Cup, where she competed on bars and beam. She placed first on bars, and despite only competing a layout dismount off of apparatus, placed third on beam behind Skye Blakely and Jordan Chiles. In April Lee competed at the American Classic and competed only on the uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. Lee placed first on both uneven bars and balance beam with scores of 15.200 and 14.550 respectively. She placed fifth on floor despite competing a simple layout for two of her tumbling passes.
Selected competitive skills
|Vault||Baitova||Yurchenko entry, laid out salto backwards with two twists||5.4||2019|
|Uneven Bars||Piked Jaeger||Reverse grip swing to piked salto forwards to catch high bar||E||2019–21|
|Gienger||Swing fwd and salto bwd with ½ turn stretched to hang on HB||E||2021|
|Bhardwaj||Laid out salto from high bar to low bar with full twist||E||2019–21|
|Van Leeuwen||Toe-On Shaposhnikova transition with ½ twist to high bar||E||2019–21|
|Nabieva||Toe-on to counter reversed laid out hecht over high bar||G||2019–21|
|Balance Beam||Layout||Laid out salto backwards with legs together (to two feet)||E||2019|
|Mitchell||1080° (3/1) turn in tuck stand on one leg||E||2019–21|
|Switch Ring||Switch Leap to Ring Position (180° split with raised back leg)||E||2019–21|
|Floor Exercise||Mitchell||1080° (3/1) turn in tuck stand on one leg||E||2019|
|Double Layout||Double laid out salto backwards||F||2019|
|Silivas||Double-twisting (2/1) double tucked salto backwards||H||2019|
|P&G National Championships||10||23||10||20||5|
|P&G National Championships||8||17||6||11||5|
|2018||Pacific Rim Championships|
|U.S. National Championships||6||5|
|2019||City of Jesolo Trophy|
|U.S. National Championships||4|
|Worlds Team Selection Camp||6|