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Olympic champion Suni Lee surprises students at St. Paul elementary school

Lee has also thrilled collegiate audiences with her performance on Auburn’s gymnastics team. She hasn’t yet decided whether she’ll aim for the Olympics in 2024.

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Suni Lee hugs Malina Xiong, Lee's 3rd-grade teacher, during a back-to-school donation event with Amazon to donate $50,000 in school supplies for STEM programs to her alma mater Thursday in St. Paul.
Kerem Yücel / MPR News
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ST. PAUL -- Olympic gold medalist and international celebrity, gymnast Sunisa Lee paid a special visit Thursday to St. Paul’s Battle Creek Elementary, where she was once a student.

The school’s leaders invited students to the school’s gymnasium for a back-to-school donation event. Principal Kristen Longway told them there would be a special guest, but it wasn’t until all the kids were sitting on the floor, that the star gymnast was introduced.

The winner of the women’s gymnastics all-around title at the Tokyo Olympics surprised the young fans.

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Suni Lee talks with a young fan at Battle Creek Elementary.
Kerem Yücel / MPR News

Lee, who’s currently studying business marketing at Auburn University, where she is a sophomore, took time to talk to students and pose with them for photos.

“The community has really helped me realize my passion as an athlete and a gymnast …I’m especially proud of the Hmong community,” Lee told the audience.

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Kaylah Morris, 11, admires Lee.

“I’m in gymnastics and I really want to go to the Olympics or at least college gymnastics,” she said.

Lee also reconnected with old teachers and coaches at the school, saying they pushed her to do more. They knew she wanted to compete in the Olympics.

“We were just talking about it. I was like, ‘Yeah, you always used to make me climb the rope, even when I wasn’t at practice or you used to make me do more pull-ups than everybody else.’”

Lee has also thrilled collegiate audiences with her performance on Auburn’s gymnastics team. She hasn’t yet decided whether she’ll aim for the Olympics in 2024.

“As of right now, I’m just kind of going with the flow, seeing what my body can do, what my mind can do just because the last Olympics was kind of very hard on my body and my mental (wellbeing). And I’m just trying to take it day by day.”

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Suni Lee poses with her former teachers at Battle Creek Elementary in St. Paul.
Kerem Yücel / MPR News
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Suni Lee signs an autograph during her return to Battle Creek Elementary in St. Paul.
Kerem Yücel / MPR News
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Suni Lee poses with a young fan.
Kerem Yücel / MPR News
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Suni Lee and schoolchildren at Battle Creek Elementary in St. Paul pose for a photograph. The Olympic champion returned to the school as part of an event with Amazon, which included a donation to the school.
Kerem Yücel / MPR News

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

Related Topics: OLYMPICSST. PAULEDUCATION
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