Suni Lee became a household name after winning the all-around gold at the Tokyo Olympics. When Simone Biles unexpectedly withdrew from the competition, Lee quickly became the United States' best bet for gold. Completely unfazed by the pressure and expectations, Lee rose to the occasion and helped secure the fifth consecutive all-around gold medal for the U.S. women. The Minnesota native left Tokyo with the full medal collection thanks to a silver in the team competition and a bronze on the uneven bars in addition to her all-around gold, but perhaps still has some unfinished business in the sport as she eyes a second Games. 

Lee has been battling a kidney-related illness since early 2023, but reported at the Team USA Media Summit in April 2024 that she is in remission and remains focused on Paris. 

Hear from the Olympic gold medalist in her own words. 

Suni Lee on being a different athlete than she was in 2021

"I still struggle with that daily. I mean, whenever I'm talking to my coaches, I always get really sad because I'm like, 'I'm never going to be the same. I'm not the same Suni; not the same athlete.' And they're like, 'Good! You don't want to be. You're doing everything and more right now. And you should be proud of the way that you've been able to come back from everything, because you never thought that you would be in this position.' And I was like, 'You're so right!' It's just hard mentally because I'm like, 'Wow, I was in a really good spot last year or last Olympics (when) getting ready.'"

Suni Lee on overcoming health obstacles to return to competition

"My doctor was telling me he didn't think I'd be able to do gymnastics ever again, so to even be here is an accomplishment in itself. And I'm super proud of myself. I try not to listen to the outsiders because people don't know what my diagnosis is ... I don't feel ready to expose that until after ... Right now I'm in remission and excited to get back out there." 

Suni Lee on having a support system to lean on

"I definitely talk to my therapist a couple of times a week. It's something that I prioritize a lot now, because it has helped me the most. And talking to my coach too, he's basically like my dad and we're super, super close. He's always been there throughout the whole journey. I think (communicating is) important for all of us, too, because we all don't really know what we're doing. My coaches have never had to deal with someone who has had (two kidney diseases) and obviously, I'm like, 'Okay, I don't know any other gymnasts that have two kidney diseases that has had to go through this.' So it's all a learning process."

Suni Lee on the Olympic Trials being in her home state of Minnesota

"It's definitely a lot more pressure; a lot more nerve-racking. I'll be walking the streets and people are like, 'Oh, my God, I'll see you at Trials.' And I'm like, 'Yeah, hopefully! If I make it there.' So it's really nerve-racking, but I'm excited to have my family there; my friends there. A lot of people are flying in to see it and I can't wait to compete in my hometown. It's been a really long time."

Suni Lee on what she's most looking forward to in Paris

"I want to see everything. I love it because I get to see so many athletes and create relationships with them. It's super fun being able to support them and last time we didn't stay in the village, so staying in the village and interacting with other people is something that I really am looking forward to. But also track, beach volleyball -  I'm really interested in the breakdancing."

"I've been to Paris once, and I was there for literally one day, and then I had to leave. But the shopping is amazing and I'm a shopping addict. So I will be shopping!"

Suni Lee on what she has to prove this Olympic cycle

"I feel like this time is more proving it to myself. Because you know, of course, in the back of my head I think, 'Oh, you didn't deserve to win.' And I told myself that so much because of the circumstances. But that's just me being hard of myself, because I'm going to be my biggest critic ... This time is more proving it to myself and proving that I deserve to be on the Olympic team. Not so much like I need to go out there and win it again, like I need to prove (something to) these people that told me that I didn't deserve to win. It's more proving to myself that I deserve to make the Olympic team and that I deserve to be there with all the other athletes." 

Suni Lee on her favorite food to splurge on

"My mom makes the best food. She's the best chef in the family! So it's a lot of Asian food, but also you guys know I love pizza. I can eat that literally every single day of my life."

Suni Lee on NIL rules allowing her to compete in college gymnastics

"I'm so glad I got to do it. I loved college. Auburn was so fun. Competing in college has been one of my dreams, so I'm glad I got to experience that and then also be a college student. I wasn't very big on school, but being at school was really fun and it made it all worth it."

Suni Lee on her pre-competition rituals

"I have to start getting ready two hours early. And the person that's braiding my hair only has one chance to braid my hair and if they take more than one time, then if I have a bad meet, I'll blame it on them!"