Reigning Olympic champion Sunisa Lee overcomes health issue to compete at US Championships

Category: Sports


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. standing / ˈstæn dɪŋ / (n.) – someone’s position in a system, organization, society, etc.

    The promotion will improve her standing in the company.

  2. reigning / ˈreɪ nɪŋ / (adj.) – being the most recent winner of a contest or competition

    He was easily beaten by the reigning world champion.

  3. all-around / ˈɔl əˌraʊnd / (adj.) – good at doing many different things

    He received an award for being an all-around musician.

  4. in a different light / ɪn ə ˈdɪf ər ənt laɪt / (idiom) – to understand something or someone in a different way

    Problems sometimes help us see our lives in a different light.

  5. tumultuous / tuˈmʌl tʃu əs / (adj.) – involving many difficulties and uncertainties

    It’s been a tumultuous day at the restaurant today. The oven broke down and a lot of customers complained.


Read the text below.

Strictly going by standings, reigning Olympic all-around gold medalist Sunisa Lee finished last at the U.S. Championships — yet ask anybody who knows her and they will view those results in a completely different light.

“It is exciting to see her overcome everything that she has and come back out here stronger, because I think it does send a good message to the younger ones,” said Simone Biles, who won her eighth championship.

The score sheet with Biles on top and Lee at the very bottom hardly told the story of Lee’s tumultuous year dealing with a kidney-related health issue and just how much it took to even get to San Jose, California where the championships were held.

In and out of the hospital because of the kidney issue, the 20-year-old Lee was forced to end her sophomore collegiate season early at Auburn. On April 3, she posted on social media: “My focus at this time is my health and recovery.”

So the fact she competed at U.S. Championships mattered so much more than the tie for 27th place. Oh, and Lee still got to stand on the podium with a bronze finish on the beam. She didn’t compete at all on uneven bars — her signature event — or floor exercise, causing the lowest score.

Lee’s eyes are still clearly set on the Paris Olympics next summer, seemingly determined as ever to overcome the latest challenges in her young life.

If anyone knows how to persevere, it’s Lee.

U.S. Olympic medalist Chellsie Memmel, the technical lead for USA Gymnastics, admires Lee’s courage to keep fighting through each tough day. Nobody is counting her out to make the Americans’ five-woman squad.

“I’m proud of what she’s able to do dealing with everything that she is going through,” Memmel said. “So to be able to come out here each day and perform very nice on beam and vault, she’s not just doing those events, we’ve gotten to see her train on bars. It’s inspiring.”

Lee could be chosen to compete in just a couple of events for the Americans. Whatever happens, Lee has a huge cheering section as she goes forward.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • How do you perceive Sunisa Lee’s determination to compete at the U.S. Championships despite her health challenges? What does this say about her character? Discuss.
  • What role do you think sports play in fostering resilience in individuals facing adversity? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • How does Sunisa Lee’s story impact younger athletes? Discuss.
  • Who are some athletes or individuals you consider role models for their ability to overcome challenges in pursuit of their goals? Why? Discuss.