Suni Lee is trading in her leotard for dancing shoes to compete on season 30 of “Dancing With the Stars.”
The gymnast was one of the breakout stars during the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. She brought home three medals, including gold for women’s all-around.
But, it was her tight-knit relationship with her family, especially her father John, that won hearts. He has been wheelchair-bound since an accident two years ago left him paralyzed, according to Today.
Lee is by no means the first Olympian to appear in the dancing competition. She is following in the footsteps of Shawn Johnson, Simone Biles, Mary Lou Retton, Laurie Hernandez and Nastia Liukin.
Here is what you need to know:
Lee Measures 5 Feet Tall
Gymnasts are known for being short in stature and Lee is no exception. According to TeamUSA.org, she measures in at 5-feet-tall.
As Slate reported in 2016, “the average elite female gymnast” has shrunk over the last 30 years to about 4-foot-9.
Being short has its advantages according to Timothy Ackland, Bruce Elliot and Joanne Richards’ “Growth in body size affects rotation performance in women’s gymnastics” article. As they wrote in the abstract, “The results show that the smaller gymnast, with a high strength to mass ratio, has greater potential for performing skills involving whole-body rotations.”
Bustle looked into the reasons behind a gymnast’s height. According to studies cited by the outlet, gymnasts often have short parents and are typically shorter than their peers at four-year-old.
The publication did reference a 2000 study. As Bustle put it, it “found that active gymnasts had some deficits in leg length and sitting height,” but within eight years of retirement had progressed to the point of having “no deficit.”
Lee Is 18 Years Old
Not only is Lee one of the season’s shortest competitors, but also one of the youngest. Born on March 9, 2003, according to TeamUSA.org, she is 18 years old.
Other young contestants this season include YouTube personalities JoJo Siwa, who is also 18 years old, and Olivia Jade Giannulli, who is almost 22 years old.
The Minnesota-native recently headed off to college at Auburn University. She marked the occasion on Instagram, captioning an August 13 post on campus, “war eagle.”
In an AuburnTigers.com interview, Lee revealed she is living on campus with a gymnast teammate.
“I’m just excited to be in a classroom with other people and get that college experience that I’ve been looking for,” she told the website. “Everybody here is so nice and welcoming. It feels like home.
Lee continued, “I just wanted to have some fun. Elite gymnastics was so hard and there’s never any time to have fun or hang out with your friends. Coming here, I can be more free, and I’m just excited to be part of a team.”