Suni Lee reveals future plans 

The American gymnast says she intends to compete for Auburn University and hasn't ruled out a run at Paris 2024

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Nothing could have prepared Suni Lee for her Olympic moment.

In less than a day since winning women's artistic gymnastics all-around gold, she's gained hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, hearing from celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Brenda Song. Her phone has nearly been sent into total meltdown.

"I didn't realise that it would literally blow up and everything," Lee said Friday (30 July). "My phone was going crazy. It's just so surreal because I never thought that I could be an Olympic champion and here I am."

In her native Minnesota, it's quite literally her day with Minnesota governor Tim Walz declaring 30 July 'Sunisa Lee Day.'

"That's crazy. It just doesn't even sound right. It's that so crazy, I can't wrap around my head because it's like I have a whole day in Minnesota dedicated to myself!" said Lee. "It's just insane. The amount of support that I have from everybody in Minnesota is something that I'm so thankful for."

In Tokyo, Lee has two medal rounds to come, the uneven bars final Sunday (1 August) and the balance beam final on Monday (2 August), but has already begun to think about her future.

"I feel like there's going to be so many more opportunities that come with this," she said.

'I have given thought to Paris'

The 18-year-old is headed to Auburn University, saying she plans to leave for the Alabama-based school on 11 August, just three days after the Tokyo Games close.

None of the five other U.S. women who have won Olympic all-around gold have competed in college gymnastics, instead declaring their professional status which made them ineligible to compete in the NCAA. But new rules, passed last month, allow Lee to benefit from her name, image and likeness in a way that previous champions like Nastia Liukin and Simone Biles could not.

"There definitely has been a little bit of talk between going pro and college and stuff, but I know that I'm set I'm going to college because that just has been another one of my dreams and goals after the Olympics," explained Lee.

She did leave the door open, however, saying both that giving up her NCAA dreams would require a "really good" opportunity to present itself and also that there have been talks about being included in Biles' Gold Over America Tour (G.O.A.T.).

But, in the end, Lee reiterated her desire to stick to her original plans.

"I'm trying to work out the times with my college coaches and then, school, because I can't miss too much school," Lee said of Biles' tour. "I really do want to compete gymnastics at Auburn."

She also didn't rule out a future in elite gymnastics, including the 2022 or 2023 World Championships.

"I'm thinking about coming back for worlds or something like that," Lee explained. "So, I know that I need to take this time to just focus on my body and focus on myself right now."

A second Olympic Games isn't out of the question either, says Lee.

"I have given thought to Paris. We'll have to see, though, because... I don't know, it just seems like a lot of time to continue elite gymnastics," she said, "but yeah, it's definitely something that I'm thinking about."