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Suni Lee to leave Auburn after this season, return to elite gymnastics for Olympic run

Suni Lee

Gymnastics: NCAA Womens Championships: Auburn Suni Lee looks on during the Individual All-Around at Dickies Arena. Fort Worth, Texas 4/14/20222 CREDIT: Greg Nelson (Photo by Greg Nelson/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (Set Number: X164022 TK1)

Sports Illustrated via Getty Ima

Olympic all-around champion Suni Lee said her upcoming sophomore season at Auburn will be her last and that she will return to elite gymnastics after this winter in a bid for the 2024 Paris Games.

“I don’t want it [the Olympics] to just be once in a lifetime,” she said in a video posted Tuesday. “I have my sights set on Paris in 2024, and I know what I have to do to get there. I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and putting in the work.”

Lee, 19, hasn’t competed in elite international gymnastics since the Tokyo Games. She competed last winter and spring for Auburn in the NCAA, which has a different scoring system than the Olympics and usually requires different routines.

She took runner-up in April’s NCAA Championships all-around behind Trinity Thomas of Florida. She also won the balance beam title and helped Auburn to a fourth-place team finish, the best in program in history.

Lee then signaled a return to elite in July by participating in her first U.S. national team camp since the Tokyo Games.

Without Lee (and without Rio Olympic all-around champ Simone Biles), the U.S. women’s gymnastics team won the world title two weeks ago. Shilese Jones took all-around silver at worlds, where Lee’s Tokyo Olympic teammates Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles each won three medals.

The upcoming NCAA season runs from January into April. Lee has not said whether she plans to return to elite competition for the summer 2023 season, or if it will be in 2024 before the Paris Games.

Most Olympic medalist gymnasts who took breaks from elite came back before the Olympic year. Biles returned from a two-year competition break in 2018. Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman took time off after the 2012 London Games and returned to competition in March 2015.

Biles has not competed since Tokyo and also not ruled out a return ahead of Paris 2024.

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