OT: Christine Peng Peng Lee named a finalist


for the Honda Inspiration Award.

Christine Peng-Peng Lee, Sixth-Year Senior, UCLA, Gymnastics

Lee’s journey in the sport of gymnastics was a roller coaster of injuries, disappointments, tenacity and ultimately triumph. She endured a back injury as a teenager that kept her out of gymnastics for two years. She came back to become Canada’s top gymnast leading into the 2012 Olympics, but her Olympic dream was crushed when she tore her ACL two months prior to the Games. Not only was she unable to compete at the Olympics, but she also had to sit out her UCLA freshman season in 2013. After rehabbing her knee that whole year, she was cleared to return to gymnastics only to discover in October of 2013 that her knee had rejected the allograft used in her initial surgery. Lee underwent a second surgery, an ACL revision using an autograft patella tendon, in November of 2013. She sat out the 2014 season rehabbing the knee once again and finally returned to competition in January of 2015. She went through a full season competing primarily on three events, but more setbacks occurred the following year. In November of 2015, she underwent thumb surgery to repair a torn ligament, which limited her to just balance beam for the early part of the season. She was able to compete on vault for two competitions in February but then underwent another knee surgery, missing a month and a half of competition due to arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus. She returned that year in time for NCAA competition but was only able to compete on uneven bars.

Throughout all her injuries and surgeries, she has maintained a positive attitude and zest for life and gymnastics, and it paid off with a dream season in 2018. Lee led UCLA to the Pac-12, NCAA Regional and NCAA National Championship titles; won the NCAA and Pac-12 balance beam titles; scored seven perfect 10s, including two on her two events at the National Championships; was honored as the Pac-12 Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the Year; and won the Honda Sport Award as the top gymnast in the country.

The Honda Inspiration Award will air on CBS Sports Network, June 19 at 4:00 pst.


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