Inside Suni Lee’s Difficult Journey Back to Gymnastics Ahead of the Paris Olympics

Talk Gymnastics With Us!

Join Today... Members See FEWER Ads

Seems to be a few contradictions in that article.

Did Suni and her family have a falling out? Have they reconciled now? Or are the main adults in her life her personal coaches?
 
There was a lot in that article that was pretty concerning. The bit about her being addicted to searching her name on social media is a strong contender in a crowded field.

Interesting that she's been so candid about Auburn. It's been obvious for a long time that she wasn't having the most positive of experiences, but with the coaches being brothers that obviously makes things more complicated.
 
Lee never got the college experience she’d pictured. After learning that she might have to hire security to attend classes in person, she chose a virtual option instead. (“Online school was really boring,” she laments.) She tried to go to the cafeteria until she realized fellow students were taking videos of her eating. (“It’s so weird,” she says, cringing.) She says the attention escalated to stalking, but she does not want to elaborate. “It was scary,” she says. “I don’t know if I can talk about it.”

(Auburn’s athletic department said in a statement that it was “unaware of any private security advice” given to Lee, and that the school “take our obligation to campus safety seriously for all Auburn students.”)

Lee felt that she couldn’t even confide in her teammates. “A lot of the girls weren’t the nicest to me,” she says. “I just really felt like an outcast, almost. They didn’t treat me that well. I just knew that I couldn’t trust them.” (She adds, “I have a couple of good, really genuine friends there,” but they are athletes in other sports.)

“Having someone of [Lee’s] stature and the attention that came with it was a learning experience for everyone,” says Auburn coach Jeff Graba. “We had a lot of success, and I believe that happened because the team worked together, grew and handled the entire situation with dignity, grace and comradery.”

Lee felt that everyone expected her to produce a perfect 10 in every college event. When she did, she had simply done what she was supposed to do. When she didn’t, she had failed. “Everybody just thinks since you’re the gold medalist, you never make mistakes,” says Jess Graba. (Jess and Jeff Graba are twin brothers.)

Lee thought college gymnastics would be fun. Instead, she found she couldn’t win. In many ways, another Olympic push after winning gold is the same: all downside. At best, you can match what you already did. At worst—and at most likely—you fall short.


Having to hire security to attend classes is horrible. Not being able to eat without everyone gawking at you. Her teammates weren't nice to her and didn't treat her well.

Yikes. I can't believe she went back for a 2nd year after that 1st year was so horrifying.
 
I guess she was hoping the novelty would wear off and she could be a normal student athlete, but looks like it didn't go that way.
 
I have always found the idea that ncaa is all hearts and flowers and elite is evil to be laughable

Suni’s situation has never sat easily with me. She committed to auburn at a very young age, at a time when her family was going through financial hardship. It wouldn’t surprise me if she had heavily discounted training fees, and perhaps felt that going to the brother’s ncaa team was a way of paying that back in loyalty.
 
Idk, I read this and many of her other statements and actions, and I just see a complicated individual who perhaps is a little stunted with emotional intelligence. There is a tinge of playing the victim with how she conducts herself outside the gym. Given the lonely elite path, the complex family dynamic, and her surprise ascendance, its understandable that perhaps she is still working on the mental and emotional maturity to deal with the attention and expectations of a public figure. There are plenty of high-profile individuals, including other Olympians, who while facing challenges, had positive and rewarding experiences because they chose to. This is not a journalistic article, this is more of a fluff piece, one-sided, statements are not researched and fact-checked or questioned. And I am speaking more to the college experience of the article. I do know that relationships are a two-way street and both parties have to invest in them in order to make them tangible. I am not sure that she did that. Something that an emotionally mature and stable person can reflect on how one might have contributed to a situation, as well as an emotionally mature person would kindly demure on discussing her college experience even if what she said is true. There is no gain to cast negative accusations at her college other than to make her look the victim. Fantastic gymnast, a complex person.
 
There was a lot in that article that was pretty concerning. The bit about her being addicted to searching her name on social media is a strong contender in a crowded field.

Interesting that she's been so candid about Auburn. It's been obvious for a long time that she wasn't having the most positive of experiences, but with the coaches being brothers that obviously makes things more complicated.
Yeah, that concerned me as well, about searching for her name on social media. That can never end well.
 
Its so common though and basically unavaoidable. Just about everyone with any kind of public profile does this.
Well, I think there's something to be said for learning some discipline when it comes to social media. I say this as a young adopter because I was only 12 when I discovered MSN chatrooms and there wasn't digital citizenship lessons when I was a kid in school.

I've always been a bit concerned about Simone's social media usage, as well.
 
Well, I think there's something to be said for learning some discipline when it comes to social media. I say this as a young adopter because I was only 12 when I discovered MSN chatrooms and there wasn't digital citizenship lessons when I was a kid in school.

I've always been a bit concerned about Simone's social media usage, as well.
Personally I hate social media and do not deal with it. But even I frequently check my own name on the internet because I have had some number of high profile cases and I do need to know whats out there about me. So even if you do not do social media you get caught up in the tentacles of the web. I hate it. I am with you -- I am concerned about all of their social media usage. Its really dangerous. When my own sons (who have no public profile) were younger we did not allow them to have social media accounts. But celebrities (including athletes) basically have to have social media accounts for marketing purposes. Espeically young people need to be well trained though in how to use it and how not to use it
 
I don’t think Suni is playing the victim. She has huge strength - beyond a doubt, looking at what she has accomplished and fought through - and we know for a fact that she has avoided taking the easy path on multiple occasions. I think that what might seem like a sort of “tonal” aspect of victimhood is just the result of how she (and the culture more generally) talks about and portrays the objectively challenging and unpleasant things she has experienced. She has faced serious chronic illness. She has faced overt racist abuse. And, obviously, much more. She isn’t ‘playing’ the victim by acknowledging the impact of any of these things. But sometimes, how bad experiences are talked about can grate at an individual level - especially if you come from a different background (e.g. culture, country, generation).
 

Talk Gymnastics With Us!

Join Today... Members See FEWER Ads

Upcoming events

Back