Suni Lee wows during podium training

Edwin  - CEO February 23, 2024
Updated 2024/02/24 at 2:45 AM
6 Min Read
(2023 Getty Images) Credit:
(2023 Getty Images) Credit:

Winter Cup: On the uneven bars and balance beam



The Tokyo 2020 all-around winner showed off her original element with ease Friday (23 February) at the competition’s official practice, Scott Bregman reports for


U.S. gymnast Suni Lee shows why an Olympic all-around champion can never be counted out.


Despite the most challenging year of her life, one that saw her facing a kidney-related health concern that ended her NCAA career early and held her out of international competitions months later, Lee, 20, put on a clinic Friday (23 February) on the uneven bars and balance beam during official practice at the 2024 Winter Cup in Louisville, Kentucky.


“It’s crazy what can happen in a year,” Lee told reporters after the session. “Because here I am a year later, competing for my new skill, which is so exciting.”


Lee told earlier this month that her main goal at the Winter Cup is to earn a trip to the Baku World Cup (7-10 March) and submit that new element – a full-twisting layout Jaeger on the uneven bars – to be named in her honor in the sport’s code of points.


She took an essential step toward that goal Friday, showing the element nearly ideally twice during the half-hour rotations on each event.


It’s a dream that’s come into sharp relief as she’s focused less on Paris 2024 and more on getting back into form.


“I haven’t thought about anything besides this meet and doing this skill, so we just want to go to Baku, hopefully, and get it named,” explained Lee. “I think I kind of took a little bit of a step back when I got sick because I got nervous that I wasn’t going to be good enough to make it to the Olympics, and I was like, ‘This is something that I want.’


“So, we kind of put our all into it, and we started training it every single day, and now, it’s like one of my biggest goals,” she continued. “So, hopefully, I can finish that and move on to the next thing. I’m not trying to think about the Olympics because you never know what can happen.”


During the practice session, the Tokyo 2020 gold, silver, and bronze medallist, who only really began full training six weeks ago, according to coach Jess Graba, showed marked improvement even from a U.S. national team camp less than three weeks earlier in February.


Besides showing her new element and intended routine on the uneven bars, Lee was solid and confident on the beam where she mounted with a problematic layout step out to two back handsprings series.


“When she wants to get sharper, she gets sharper,” Graba said. “And today, I’m not sure if she feels any better, but when she makes her mind up, that’s usually what it is. It doesn’t have a lot to do with us or anything else. When Suni wants something, when Suni sets her mind to it, that’s usually what happens.”


NCAA standout Trinity Thomas will compete in the first elite meet in five years


Beyond Lee, the session featured NCAA champion and former U.S. national team member Trinity Thomas.


The 22-year-old, who tied the all-time collegiate record for most 10.0 scores in a career during her 2023 campaign, is returning to elite gymnastics for the first time in five years.


“Five years is crazy. I’m excited. I’m excited. I’ve been working hard. There’s been ups and downs along the road, as there always are, always will be,” Thomas said Friday. “I’ve just been controlling what I can control, and I’m excited to get out there tomorrow and see what I can do.”


One of the bumps has been a tweak to her ankle last week that has limited her somewhat in the immediate build-up to her return.


During the official workout, Thomas focused mainly on the uneven bars and balance beam but isn’t ruling out competing in all four events during Saturday’s (24 February) competition.


“I trained [on floor and vault] a little bit today, and so we’ll see how I’m feeling,” she explained. “But I just want to, most importantly, be safe and be confident in what I’m doing.”


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