After ending her Auburn career early due to a kidney illness, gold medal Olympian gymnast Sunisa Lee revealed the sickness caused her to gain 45 pounds.
“I couldn’t fit into any of my clothes,’’ Lee said Thursday, according to USA Today. “My eyes were swollen shut. It was just so scary.’’
The 20-year-old is set to compete at the 2024 Olympics in Paris in hopes of reclaiming her title of All-Around Champion.
Lee spoke to USA Today on the Universal Studios Lot in Southern California as a guest of NBCUniversal, which will broadcast the Paris Games in summer 2024.
“I haven’t had a really bad day in a while,’’ Lee said. “But in the beginning it was like I was waking up swollen.
“My fingers were so swollen they wouldn’t fit into my grips and I couldn’t hold on to the bar.”
Lee quickly became a fan favorite during the Tokyo Games not only for her extraordinary talent in her craft but also for her glowing personality and commitment to her sport.
“My whole body was swollen because I was retaining water, so I couldn’t do a flip,” Lee said. “So, it was really different and I had to learn how to work through it.’’
After announcing the end of her gymnastics career at Auburn and getting the incurable diagnosis, Lee returned to compete professionally in August, attending the 2023 Core Hydration Classic.
“This comeback was so much more than my return to elite gymnastics. It was me proving to myself that I can overcome hard things, and to hopefully inspire others to never let life’s setbacks stop you from going after your dreams,” she wrote in an Instagram post.
“We didn’t think that I would be here,” Lee told SELF. “We didn’t know what was possible. We didn’t know what was wrong with me — and here I am on the big stage, competing.”