Suni Lee Wins the All-Around Olympic Gold Medal


“It didn’t even think I’d ever get here,” Lee said. “It doesn’t even feel like I’m in real life.”

On Thursday, Lee hit routine after routine, often as if she were at practice, not at the most important competition of her life. She even nailed the floor exercise in her last rotation of the night, with new choreography and elements that had been changed by her coach, Jess Graba, that morning. They had decided to take out her fourth tumbling pass because her left ankle, which she fractured last year, hasn’t completely healed, leading to poor landings — and big deductions — for that final pass.

The change worked. Lee had her best floor exercise score of these Olympics.

Rebeca Andrade of Brazil won silver and Angelina Melnikova of Russia won the bronze.

Graba, Lee’s coach since she was in elementary school, knew that she could hit her new routine — and the other routines, too. From the start, he believed she was a special athlete, one that had “a lot of spunk” and was fearless. He and his wife, Lee’s other coach, Alison Lim, worked closely together to usher Lee to the top of the sport, but also keep the sport fun.

Winning, of course, was also important. Graba said he and Lee often discussed winning the Olympic gold medal, even in the era of Biles, because he knew she had the potential to do it under the right circumstances. Even if Biles had been in the competition in Tokyo, he said, he thought Lee could come close to beating her.

“Too much of the conversation has been about one person,” Graba said, adding that he was thrilled that the world has had a chance to see Lee at her best and appreciate her, as he and his wife have done for more than a decade. “I thought she was this good all the time. I feel best that everybody else got to see it. She finally got to show it.”


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