Olympic gold medallist Sunisa Lee has revealed that a kidney condition will force her to leave Auburn early. The 20-year-old Team USA gymnast posted a health update on Twitter, revealing that she has been dealing with a “non-gymnastics related issue involving my kidneys.”
Lee, the first Hmong-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal, said that for her own safety, Auburn’s medical staff did not give the go-ahead for her to train during the past two weeks. “I am blessed and thankful to be working with the best specialized medical team to treat and manage my diagnosis. My focus at this time is my health and recovery,” the athlete remarked.
Since January 2021, Lee, 20, has been representing Auburn in NCAA competitions; however, the health issue has ended her collegiate career. “It’s been challenging to end my Auburn career early, but I am thankful for all of the love and support,” she said on Twitter, adding: “I want to especially thank my doctors, coaches and the Auburn medical staff for their care during this time.”
Olympic all-around gymnastics champion Lee expressed her admiration for her Auburn team‘s “determination and resilience this season.” “Auburn, thank you for the best two years of my life and for giving me the opportunity to make history alongside this amazing group. I am forever grateful for this community.”
— Sunisa lee (@sunisalee_) April 3, 2023
With the battle cry of the Alabama school, “War eagle,” Lee concluded her social media post. The Minneapolis gymnast had previously said that this would be her final year of collegiate gymnastics in November.
In a video shared on social media at the time, she said: “Today I am sharing a decision that has weighed on me a really long time,” the Dancing with the Stars alum said in the video. “As an athlete that has competed at the highest level on the world’s biggest stage I’ve been fortunate enough to experience that once-in-a-lifetime feeling and the indescribable emotion when the gold medal is draped around your neck. But I don’t want it to just be once in a lifetime.”
The gymnast revealed that she had always wanted to compete for Auburn University and that she had gained a lot of knowledge about “myself, true teamwork, and about community during my time here.”
Lee then said after the season ends, she was going to turn her attention exclusively to training for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. “This will be my last season competing at Auburn University,” she shared in the November 2022 video update. “I’m so excited to share that after this season I will be returning to elite gymnastics. I have my sights set on Paris in 2024 and I know what I have to do to get there. I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and putting in the work.”
— Sunisa lee (@sunisalee_) November 15, 2022
Prior to the Tokyo Olympics, Lee explained it meant competing at a high level and representing the USA. She said: “I want to do it for my family and coaches obviously, but I also want to do it for myself. I’ve just been through so much.”
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“Coming into this competition, I didn’t even think that I could be competing for a gold medal,” Lee told media following the stunning victory in Tokyo. “I was coming to compete for a silver medal. To be here, it’s crazy.”
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