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Sunisa 'Suni' Lee says she's stepping away from gymnastics due to a kidney issue

Auburn University's Sunisa Lee competes on the floor exercise during an NCAA gymnastics meet on Jan. 7 in Las Vegas.
Stew Milne
/
AP
Auburn University's Sunisa Lee competes on the floor exercise during an NCAA gymnastics meet on Jan. 7 in Las Vegas.

Olympic gold medalist Sunisa "Suni" Lee announced that she is temporarily stepping away from gymnastics over a health problem unrelated to the sport.

Lee said in a tweet on Monday that she has been dealing with a "non-gymnastics health related issue" involving her kidneys.

The Auburn University sophomore thanked the medical staff that was treating and managing her diagnosis.

"My focus at this time is my health and recovery," Lee said. "It's been challenging to end my Auburn career early, but I am thankful for all of the love & support."

Lee took home the gold during the individual competition of women's gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, cementing her role as one of the stars of the U.S. women's team.

"I was nervous, but I did my best, and I'm super proud of myself," Lee told reporters at the time. "It's crazy. I didn't ever think I'd be here."

The Minnesota native and Hmong American also had the most decorated year in Auburn gymnastics history, according to her bio on the school's website, including eight All-America honors and a national championship in 2022.

Despite her illness, Lee said she wasn't ruling out vying for a spot to compete in the Paris Olympics in 2024.

"In fact, this experience has sharpened my vision for the future," she said.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joe Hernandez
[Copyright 2024 NPR]