Olympic champions Sunisa Lee, Jade Carey among finalists for 2022 Honda Award

Plus, NCAA ratings records and a look back at the French team on bars from Sydney 2000.

By Scott Bregman
Picture by USA TODAY Sports

Four gymnasts, including Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medallists Sunisa Lee (all-around) and Jade Carey (floor exercise), have been nominated for the 2022 Honda Award for gymnastics.

Lee and Carey are joined by NCAA all-around champion Trinity Thomas and University of Minnesota standout Lexy Ramler.

The finalists were named on Tuesday (April 19) with the winner to be revealed in the coming days.

The Honda Sport Award has been presented annually by the Collegiate Women's Sports Awards (CWSA) for the past 46 years to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports and signifies “the best of the best in collegiate athletics," according to a release from the organisation.

Lee and Carey just wrapped up history-making freshman campaigns mere months after winning gold at last summer's Tokyo Games. The duo, along with Kyla Ross and Madison Kocian, are the only Olympic champions in gymnastics to compete collegiately.

Last week at the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, Lee helped her Auburn Tigers to a historic fourth place finish overall while finishing second in the all-around, behind Thomas, and claiming the balance beam title. Carey finished fourth in the all-around standings.

Jade Carey hugs Sunisa Lee after Lee won the gold medal in the women's all-around final on day six of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

NCAA Gymnastics Championships ratings soar to golden heights

With the likes of Lee and Carey coming to the NCAA, the level of the sport at the collegiate ranks has never been higher.

And the proof is the in the numbers - TV ratings, to be exact.

According to ESPN, the NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships, which aired in the United States last Saturday (16 April) on ABC, reached 922,000 viewers, making it the most watched college women's gymnastics meet ever to air on an ESPN network. That number is up 11 per cent over 2021, and the broadcast peaked with 1.1 million fans tuning in.

"It's magical. It truly is," 1984 Olympic medallist and ESPN commentator Kathy Johnson Clarke told Olympics.com last week, regarding the level of the sport in the 2022 season. "NCAA gymnastics was already climbing to a place we had yet to see in this sport. That you can have the best level 10 gymnasts in the country on the same floor with an Olympic champion, and it's a competition. That is truly magical."

From the vault...

This week, we take a look back at the French women on the uneven bars during the qualifying round at Sydney 2000. The squad was led by the 9.700 effort from Elvire Teza and finished eighth overall.

Teza's routine here qualified her to the individual apparatus final where she also finished eighth.

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