Sunisa Lee's dream Olympics continue with unlikely bronze medal in uneven bars

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TOKYO — Sunisa Lee’s dream Olympics continued Sunday when she took bronze in the uneven bars.

Lee, who won gold in the all-around competition on Thursday, delivered a somewhat disappointing score of 14.500 as the first gymnast to compete Sunday.

That wasn’t expected to hold up, but after a series of under-performances by much of the rest of the field (including China's Fan Yilin who fell on her dismount), Lee held on and medaled. The celebration was all the same.

Belgium’s Nina Derwael won gold with a 15.200. She’s won the last two world championships and entered the event as the highest qualifier with only Lee as a legit contender. Lee turned the tables and scored slightly higher — 15.300 to 15.266 — in Thursday’s all-around competition.

However, it wasn’t close this time.

Russia’s Anastasia Iliankova took silver with a 14.833.

Lee may not have loved her performance, but the fact that she still medaled showed her considerable ability in the event. She now has a gold (all-around), silver (team) and bronze (bars) at these Games. She will compete Tuesday in the balance beam final.

Sunisa Lee now has three medals at these Olympics after her bronze in the uneven bars. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Sunisa Lee now has three medals at these Olympics after her bronze in the uneven bars. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

These Games have been a whirlwind for the 18-year-old from St. Paul, Minnesota. She arrived expecting to be an understudy of sorts to Simone Biles, the American star who had dominated gymnastics for eight years. While Lee would have a chance to win gold on bars — Biles' “weakest” event — she knew it wasn’t certain.

Mainly, she expected Biles to be the leader during the team competition and acknowledged that her goal in the all-around was to “compete for silver.”

Then Biles dropped out of the team competition on Tuesday after an awkward vault revealed that she lacked the ability to focus in the air. She couldn’t compete.

Just one rotation in, and saddled with a poor score by Biles, Lee became the team’s de facto leader. They went on to win silver.

Then two nights later, with Biles still sidelined, she stepped up and won a ferocious four-gymnast fight at the top to take the gold in the Olympic all-around, the most prestigious and coveted title in the sport.

Now she adds more hardware to the collection.

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