By Katie Steiner

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — St. Paul’s Suni Lee is even closer to her Olympic dreams after her fantastic finish at Worlds.

Suni won the gold medal with Team USA, and brought home silver on the floor and the bronze on the uneven bars.

Now with the Olympics less than a year away, the training gets even tougher to make the U.S. Team heading to Tokyo.

On most afternoons, Suni is at Midwest Gymnastics, working with one goal in mind.

“Everything I’ve done has been for the Olympics,” Suni said. “I started 10 years ago and it’s been my biggest dream ever since.”

By her side each and every day is her coach, Jess Graba.

“We’ve been working together for so long, since she was like 8, it’s more like I’m working with one of my own kids,” Graba said.

He says Suni has all the tools to get to where she wants to go.

“The main thing about her is that she’s a good worker, but also a good listener,” Graba said. “She takes direction well. So I think when you put those together, you’re super talented, you’re willing to work hard, and you’re a little bit fearless, and you listen, that’s a pretty good combination.”

They are in the gym together on average six hours a day, six days a week, working to prove they belong in Tokyo.

All that practice fortifies Suni’s confidence.

“A little bit of doubt goes a long way,” she said. “You just got to trust yourself and be confident because you know how to do it already, you can’t really change anything when you are in the moment, so you just got to trust yourself and just do what you’ve been doing.”

There was one event that made Suni’s steadfast focus waiver.
In August, Suni’s dad was helping a friend cut a branch in the yard, and fell off the tree.

He was paralyzed, and doctors don’t think he will ever walk again.

“I usually just tell myself that whatever I’m going through right now is not going to be as hard as what he’s going through right now, just because he can’t do anything,” Suni said. “So I got to do what I can for him.”

Her dad is her source for inspiration. Suni knew he was watching Worlds from here in Minnesota, cheering her on every step of the way.

“We love my dad so much,” she said. “Everything I do is for him.”

Suni’s dad had a GoFundMe account that raised almost $30,000.

Her goal is to get to Tokyo to compete, his goal is get there to watch her.

Katie Steiner

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