One year after winning all-around gymnastics gold at the 2020 Olympics, 19-year-old Suni Lee is settling in to competition on a different stage: Auburn University. The college sophomore is getting ready for her second year in collegiate gymnastics and drawing record-breaking crowds in the process.
“If you love Auburn, Auburn will love you. They’re absolutely amazing,” Lee tells SELF at the beginning of the semester.
When Lee chalked up for Auburn last year, she became the first Olympic all-around medalist to compete in NCAA gymnastics. She got off to a hot start in the collegiate world, clinching silver in the all-around competition and gold in the beam during her freshman year.
One thing that helped with the adjustment to college sports? The camaraderie of a team, she says.
“Elite gymnastics is always different of course, because it’s so individualized, and now I’m competing with a team,” she says. “It’s exciting to have everybody behind my back and just to be rooting for each other.”
The transition from international gymnastics to college competition hasn’t been the only change for the teen. She’s living in an apartment for the first time—no more dorms—and is enjoying the freedom that comes along with it.
“Now we have an actual kitchen, so we can make meals and snacks and stuff, when before we had to go to the dining halls,” Lee says. “It’s a lot more fun to decorate, and we can use our cars to go places. I just feel a lot more free.”
With the freedom comes responsibility, and Lee says she’s had to be a lot “more on top of things” regarding taking care of her body. As a result, rest and recovery has taken on an even bigger importance.
“Sleep is a big priority for me now,” Lee says.
SELF caught up with Lee to talk about how she’s getting the rest she needs—and what are nonnegotiables in her bedtime routine.
My bedtime routine starts after a late dinner.
I probably start my bedtime routine around 8ish. I have dinner pretty late, just because I don’t like to have dinner a long time before I go to bed. So I’ll eat at like 7:30 p.m, and then I’ll get started.
Skin care is huge for me.
I have to start by removing my makeup because, well, it’s been a really long day. Usually I’ll get in the shower first, and then when I get out I start with my makeup. I use the Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm. It’s just so good, it helps take my makeup off right away. After that, I’ll wash my face with the Youth To The People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser. It makes me feel so clean, it doesn’t dry me out, and it helps with my breakouts, so I love it.