Rounding Off: Suni Lee dazzles in 'Dancing with the Stars' debut

Plus, more worlds rosters, Dipa Karmakar out of national camp, and a look back at the 1996 men's vault final

By Scott Bregman
Picture by Theo Wargo/GETTYIMAGES

Suni Lee is trading her uneven bar grips for dancing shoes - and doing it in spectacular fashion.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic all-around gymnastics gold medallist made her 'Dancing with the Stars' debut on Monday alongside partner Sasha Farber. Farber has previously danced with gymnasts Simone Biles and Mary Lou Retton in the competition on U.S. television.

Dancing to “STAY” by The Kid LAROI and Justin Bieber, Lee impressed, earning scores of 7 from all four judges. That ranked her second among the judges points, behind only JoJo Siwa.

“Competing at the Olympics is probably the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever gone through. But coming to ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ I’m freaking out. ... I’m so nervous," said Lee after her performance. "I don’t know how to dance. People always assume that I would be a really good dancer, because of gymnastics, but it’s like completely different.”

The judges didn't see too much of those nerves coming through.

“My golden girl! You can jive, baby,” Bruno Tonioli said. “Those kicks and those flicks, the precision, the retraction, the placement. But now, my darling, what you have to do: Don’t look at the floor. Learn to perform. Learn to sell it big, because when you do so, you’re like sunshine, my love.”

More national teams for world championships set

With just about a month to go until the 2021 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Kitakyushu, Japan, more nations are selecting their squads for the event.

Over the weekend, the U.S. men named Tokyo 2020 Olympians Alec Yoder, Brody Malone, and Yul Moldauer to the event. They'll be joined by Alex Diab, Stephen Nedoroscik, and Donnell Whittenburg. The U.S. women are set to name their team at a selection event in Indianapolis the week before the worlds begins.

France said this week that they'll be sending three women to the event: Coline Devillard, Carolann Heduit, and Celia Serber. Their star - 2019 European all-around champion Melanie de Jesus dos Santos - is currently in the United States as part of Simone Biles' touring show: the Gold Over America Tour.

Dipa Karmakar will miss the 2021 World Championships

Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar, who qualified to the vault finals at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, will not compete at the upcoming world championships.

According to a report from sportskeeda.com, Karmakar was participating in a selection event with 16 athletes vying for berths to the event but she had to withdraw before the second day of competition.

“She was leading the group on the first day of the trials on September 14 but pulled out the next day on September 15. Since Dipa didn’t compete on both days of the national selection trials, her average score wasn’t enough to fetch her place in the top three mandatory to represent India at the next month’s World Gymnastics Championships,” said a Gymnastics Federation of India official associated with the national selection trials.

Since Karmakar’s rise and success at the Rio Games, she has been faced with injuries that forced her out of competition.

India will send Aruna Budda Reddy, Praniti Das, and Shraddha Saipath Talekar to the worlds, according to the report.

From the vault…

This week, we take a look back at the men’s vault final from Atlanta 1996. Russia’s Alexei Nemov was the gold medal winner, followed Yeo Hong-Chul (KOR) and Vitaly Scherbo (BLR). For Nemov, the gold medal in the vault final came days after he helped his Russian team to the Olympic title.

Yeo’s daughter, Yeo Seo-jeong, is a Tokyo 2020 medallist, having won bronze on vault.