San Francisco Chronicle

Lee’s uneven bars ends in frustratio­n as she takes bronze

- By David Barron David Barron covers the Olympics for Hearst Newspapers.

TOKYO — Sunisa Lee now has a complete set of 2021 Olympic medals, but she can’t help from feeling disappoint­ed that her takeaway from the uneven bars final was bronze, not gold.

Lee, the individual Olympic allaround women’s champion and a member of the U.S. team that won a silver medal, came up short on her favorite event Sunday. Her score of 14.5 left her behind Belgium’s Nina Derwael (15.2) and the Russian Olympic Committee’s Anastaslia Iliankova (14.833).

Lee’s fulltilt bars routine starts with a 6.8 start value, but she struggled from the beginning of Sunday’s performanc­e and was given a difficulty score of only 6.2 and a total score of 14.5 for a routine that still included two releases off the high bar and four transition­s from high bar to low bar and back.

“I was really close to the bar” on her first release, she said. “It really sucks because it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I’m really proud of myself for staying with it, because there were so many times on my bars I just gave up and just jumped off.

“The crazy thing is that this medal probably means more to me than the allaround gold medal because I think bars are just like my thing. So to mess it up like this, I’m just kind of sad about it.”

Internatio­nal Gymnastics Federation rules do not allow gymnasts to warm up on the apparatus before event finals, and Sunday’s finals featured uncharacte­ristic errors by a number of gymnasts.

“I think that rule is so dumb, and it’s honestly so dangerous because we don’t get to go on the event before you get to compete,” Lee said. “That’s kind of unfair. It sucks for everybody.”

As is the case for so many competitor­s in these strange, isolated Olympic settings, Lee said she put too much pressure on herself and lost focus after the hubbub surroundin­g her allaround victory.

“I just felt like I wanted to make everybody else happy just because I feel like bars are just like my thing, and a lot of people are like rooting for me. So I kind of feel like I let people down.”

Lee will compete Wednesday on balance beam, and she said that to stay focused, she’s going to stay off social media and delete her Twitter account.

“Instagram is not as bad cause I can’t really see what people say,” Lee said. “But for Twitter, it’s just too easy to just see everything. I’m probably going to end up having to delete that and just do TikTok. It’s my getaway app.”

In addition to silver medalist MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey on women’s vault, also competing in Sunday’s event finals were Yul Molauder, who finished sixth on floor exercise behind gold medalist Artem Dolgopyat of Israel, and Alec Yoder, who was sixth on pommel horse behind Olympic champion Max Whitlock of Great Britain.

 ?? Ashley Landis / Associated Press ?? Sunisa Lee performs on the uneven bars during the apparatus finals. The gymnast came up short in her favorite event.
Ashley Landis / Associated Press Sunisa Lee performs on the uneven bars during the apparatus finals. The gymnast came up short in her favorite event.

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