With father in the stands, Suni Lee shines on uneven bars (video)


On the first night of women’s competition at the 2021 U.S. National Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, Suni Lee put on a show on the uneven bars.

Competing what is considered the hardest uneven bars routine in the world, Lee was awarded 15.3 points for her near-flawless routine (video embedded above).

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Perhaps even more significant: the fact that her father, John, was watching from the stands.

In 2019, two days before Suni was scheduled to leave for the U.S. Championships, John fell off a ladder, an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Suni went on to compete at the 2019 U.S. National Championships, winning an unexpected silver medal in the all-around (behind Simone Biles). John watched both that meet – and Suni’s performance at the 2019 World Championships – from his hospital bed.

Today’s meet marked the first time that John was able to watch his daughter compete in-person since 2018.

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But when competition initially got underway, Suni struggled to spot her parents in the stands.

“Right before I went [on bars], I saw them and I was like, ‘Ok, this is going to be a good routine,'” she said.

After her bars routine, Suni says she was so excited that she didn’t even salute the right way.

Competing in her first all-around in over a year, Suni went on to finish second overall (behind Biles) – a strong statement given that she is currently coming back from a foot/Achilles injury.

NBC Sports’ Sarah Hughes contributed to this story. 

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