Olympic Gold medalist Suni Lee made history last month after performing a jaw-dropping bar routine that had never been done before in college gymnastics: The Nabieva.
The iconic move is named after the Russian gymnast Tatiana Nabieva, who first performed it in 2010 when it was entered into the Code of Points.
It’s a world-class skill that only a few gymnasts in the world can do, including the 18-year-old Lee.
The Nabieva involves swinging around the high bar with a perfectly straight body, then passing over the bar backward before grabbing it again. In the Elite code, it is rated a G, the highest difficulty rating for a bar release.
Lee made jaws drop as she performed The Nabieva so flawlessly on February 25 during Auburn University’s meet against Kentucky in Auburn Arena. It marked the first time the skill had ever been done in an NCAA competition.
After Lee stuck her landing, her teammates began to celebrate and the crowd went wild, knowing that gymnastics history has just been made.
The young athlete earned a score of 9.975 for her routine, meaning one of the two judges gave her a perfect 10 while the other scored her with a 9.950.
Before The Nabieva, the Auburn freshman also executed a flawless balance beam routine, achieving her second perfect 10 of the season and her first inside Auburn Arena.
“It’s so fun for me, because growing up watching college gymnastics … you always knew what to expect,” she said. “When I go out there, I want people to not know what I’m going to do.”
Auburn won the meet with its best-ever team score of 197.925. Meanwhile, Kentucky finished the night with a 197.150. Lee won the all-around with a 39.775.
“So surreal,” Lee said. “It really does feel like a family the way we all celebrated together. It’s not like anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was pure happiness. Our energy was way up there.”
Lee also made history a week before the meet when she debuted a half-on front layout vault, which had also never been performed on the collegiate level. She scored a 9.925 in her debut performance with the vault at the meet in Georgia. She ranked first place in the vault and in every event.
“She needs to be challenged,” said Jeff Graba, Auburn head coach. “She gets bored easily. And when you get bored in this sport, you make silly mistakes. We need to continue to challenge her, and we need to continue to take the kid gloves off. She’s ready to continue to improve. There’s more in the tank.”
Lee is only the second Auburn gymnast to score two perfect 10s in her college career. The first was Becky Erwin, who achieved the feat in 1993.
Lee previously performed The Nabieva bar routine while competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as part of her bar routine, often proclaimed the best in the world. She won bars at the U.S. team trials, and it was her highest score in the all-around event final at the Olympics.
Lee ended up clinching a gold medal and was declared the Olympic all-around champion. She also made history as the first Asian-American to win gold in the category.
Lee’s incredible feat will surely go down in history as one of the greatest moments in college gymnastics. She’s continuously changing the standard of what can be accomplished on the college gymnastics stage, and it’s exciting to see what she’ll do next.
Watch this gymnastics superstar’s amazing performance in the video below.
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