Olympic all-around champ Sunisa Lee joining 'Dancing With the Stars'

From the floor exercise to the dance floor, Lee continues a tradition of U.S. gymnasts taking part in the television competition.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Olympic all-around champion Sunisa Lee is set to take part in American dancing reality competition Dancing With the Stars, continuing a tradition of American gymnasts on the show.

The 18-year-old Minnesotan becomes the third active American gymnast to join the show since 2016, joining Laurie Hernandez in 2016 and her Tokyo 2020 teammate Simone Biles in 2017.

Another gymnast, Los Angeles 1984 Olympic champion Mary Lou Retton, also appeared on the competition in 2018. Other gymnasts have also previously participated, including Beijing 2008 balance beam champion Shawn Johnson East and that year's all-around champion Nastia Liukin.

Learning from Jordan Chiles

Lee enters the competition having won three medals at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre during Tokyo 2020.

In addition to gold in the all-around, a victory which kept the Olympic title in American hands for the fifth consecutive Games, Lee clinched team silver alongside Biles and also won a bronze medal on uneven bars for the full set.

Competing on Dancing With the Stars "was one of my goals after the Olympics," Lee said, according to USA Today.

Olympic teammate Jordan Chiles, who stepped in for Biles during the team final when the latter withdrew midway through after suffering from 'the twisties', has been giving her lessons.

"It was a struggle. Jordan was trying to teach me how to dance," Lee said. "She's like, 'You're going on 'Dancing With the Stars? You don't know how to dance!'"

Juggling show with college

The first-year Auburn University college student, who will compete for her university from January, will do online classes for her first semester while she trains and competes on the show, which films in Los Angeles.

Lee has lofty expectations of gymnasts on the show to live up to – Hernandez won her season while Biles was fourth in hers; Johnson East also won the competition in 2009.

"I really want to win this show," she said.

"It's expressing yourself even more when you're dancing, because you've kind of been locked up a little bit in gymnastics."

Her appearance on the show might also prevent her from guest appearing on Biles' Gold Over America post-Olympic Games countrywide tour, although nothing has been confirmed or ruled out.

Biles had previously suggested that Lee might be able to make an appearance at a stop if college allowed her to.


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