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

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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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