Sunisa Lee is the reigning Olympic all-round champion – Simone Biles surprisingly canceled in Tokyo due to mental problems – but from a Belgian point of view, Lee is mainly the American who was the counterpart of Nina Derwael on uneven bars. Only: at the moment of truth, Derwael did not crack and Lee did – Derwael took gold, Lee bronze. Even in the years before, she was Derwael’s biggest competitor. Just like Derwael, the American needed some breathing space after Tokyo. She participated, just like Derwael Dancing with the Stars. So she went to university. She will put those studies on hold after this academic year.
“The decision was not easy,” she says via Instagram. “I was lucky enough to reach the highest, it’s an incredible moment when the gold is hanging around your neck. But I don’t want it one once in a lifetime is. I have set my sights on Paris 2024, I know what I have to do.”
Unlike Derwael, who put gymnastics aside during part of the break, Lee has continued to compete at college level in the American college system. Due to her studies, she did not participate in the last World Cup in Liverpool, where Derwael made her comeback with bronze.