Olympic gold medalist and Auburn gymnast Suni Lee revealed on Monday that she's been dealing with a kidney "issue" that kept her from competing in the last meets of the season, including the final home meet of her Auburn career.
In a Twitter post, Lee explained her absence over Auburn's final three meets of the season, but didn't reveal any specifics about her ailment.
"I have been dealing with a non-gymnastics health related issue involving my kidneys. For my safety, the medical team did not clear me to train and compete over the last few weeks. I am blessed and thankful to be working with the best specialized medical team to treat and manage my diagnosis. My focus at this time is my health and recovery."
Lee also said that her diagnosis has not impacted her decision to pursue a spot on the U.S. Olympic team for the 2024 Paris Games.
While Lee hadn't expected her time as an Auburn gymnast to end with her dealing with a kidney problem, she had already been planning to step away from college gymnastics. She announced in Nov. 2022 that the 2023 gymnastics season would be her last at Auburn, as she planned to return to elite gymnastics and pursue a spot on the 2024 Olympic team.
"As an athlete that has competed at that highest level on the world's biggest stage, I have been fortunate enough to experience the once-in-a-lifetime feeling, and the indescribable emotion when a gold medal is draped around your neck. But I don't want it to be just once in a lifetime," Lee said.
"I have my sights set on Paris in 2024, and I know what I have to do to get there. I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and putting in the work.”
— Sunisa lee (@sunisalee_) November 15, 2022
She first mentioned a "non-gymnastics injury" on March 9 when she announced she would not be able to compete at senior night against Penn State on March 10, Auburn's final home meet of the year.
hope to back out there soon, can’t wait to cheer the girls on ❤️ pic.twitter.com/rETAdr937B
— Sunisa lee (@sunisalee_) March 10, 2023
Lee had already missed a meet on March 4 due to what coach Jeff Graba said were "schedule changes." She also wasn't cleared to compete at the SEC championship or the NCAA regional championship, where Auburn lost.
Lee wasn't happy with how her time at Auburn ended, but said the experience has helped her.
"It's been challenging to end my Auburn career early, but I am thankful for all the love & support," Lee said. "I will not stop pursuing my dreams for a bid to Paris in 2024. In fact, this experience has sharpened my vision for the future."
Auburn fans began filling Lee's Twitter mentions immediately, wishing her a speedy recovery and best of luck with her journey to the Olympics.
Thanks for bringing so much excitement to Auburn! God bless and heal you as you pursue your 2024 Olympic dreams. I know the Auburn family will be cheering you on there and around the world.
— Steve Simpson (@SteveSdo11) April 3, 2023
Suni, you will always be part of the Auburn Family. You can always come back home! Prayers for the healing of your kidneys. Good luck and War Eagle in Paris!
— Anita Bryant (@abryant81) April 3, 2023
Thank you for choosing to love Auburn. She will love you back…forever.
— Larry DiChiara (@DichiaraEd) April 3, 2023
Sweet Suni, we are so very grateful you chose Auburn!!! You are forever etched in our hearts and part of history of the great Auburn University! Forever our Family!! Praying for your recovery, and for that bid in Paris to come to fruition!!! You got this!!! 🧡💙
— jennifer moore 🦚 (@jennaunp12) April 3, 2023