Fresh from the level 10 ranks, Emily Lee made it all the way to P&G Championships in 2016, her first year as an elite gymnast. She placed 7th on the BB at P&G Championships after finishing an impressive level 10 season where she became both State and Regional AA Champion for the Junior A and Junior B categories respectively. She topped off this impressive season by taking the top spot on FX at the 2016 J.O. National Championships in the Junior B category. Hailing from West Valley Gymnastics School in San Jose, California, the gym of 1996 Olympic gold medalist and member of the Magnificent 7, Amy Chow, Emily is coached by Paul Duron and Judy Sun and will become a senior gymnast in 2018. With Tokyo on the horizon as we enter a new Olympic cycle, Emily has shown that she has plenty of upgrades up her sleeve for the upcoming quad with videos circulating around the internet of her training skills such as the Biles, this powerful gymnast and calm competitor is certainly one to watch and is certainly a star on the rise.
Here, Emily talks about her transition to the elite level, how she got started in gymnastics, her hopes for the future, gymnasts that inspire her, upgrades, college gymnastics and training crazy skills like the Biles!
The transition was definitely hard because I didn’t have much experience at this level besides competing in HOPES. Making it to P&G’s was the highlight of this season because it was a really cool opportunity to compete against other amazing gymnasts.
2) You competed two seasons at level 10, do you think that has helped you as you make the transition to elite?
Yes, level 10 helped me a lot because I got more comfortable with my routines and skills before jumping into elite.
3) How was it competing at you first P&G Championships?
P&G’s was nerve wracking to be honest, but fun. I learned a lot and it built up some confidence for myself.
4) How did you get involved in gymnastics and can you tell me a little about your coaches and how they’ve helped you get where you are now?
My dad found a coupon in a newspaper for a free gymnastics lesson at West Valley Gymnastics and he took me in. When I wanted to try out for practices it took me 3 tries to built up the courage to get out onto the floor. My coaches have always supported me in every decision I have made and steered me in the right direction.
I started getting invited to my first A camp and then developmental camps at the Ranch which ended in me starting HOPES and then to juniors.
6) What made you fall in love and want to continue gymnastics to such a high level?
My friend Jennifer and I used to have playdates when we were little and she would teach me tricks that she had learned in the front lawn. After she would leave I would keep working on the trick on the grass and when I finally got it I had a feeling of accomplishment. So I crave for that feeling everyday I come into the gym.
When I was little most things came easy for me but if I didn’t get something right away it was hard for me. I loved competing level 7 the most because I had a really good season and we were able to bring a banner home to our gym at States.
8) What is your favourite event to compete and why?
Floor because that’s the event where I can go all out and not have to worry about controlling my jitters as much.
9) I have seen videos of you working some pretty crazy skills such as the Biles, are there any skills in particular that you love or any that really scare you?
I’ve been training the Biles which I’ve got onto a mat which is exciting and a 2 1⁄2 punch 2/2 twist on floor. Those are fun to do! I’m working on back handspring fulls on beam which I have gotten on the high beam recently which is in the making.
I have some good upgrades on beam and a release on bars which are not ready for routines but I’m aiming for a double full on vault.
11) Looking towards the future, what are some of your gymnastics goals?
My goal right now is to make the national team and go on an international assignment.
12) Is college gymnastics something you’re interested in? If so, are there any schools that you are particularly interested in?
Yes, I really want to do college gymnastics. My friend Sabrina and my uncle Alvin went to UCLA so that school is in my interest.
13) Do you hope to have a career outside of the gym when you’re older or is coaching something that would interest you?
A career outside of gym would be a coach or physical therapist.
14) You’ve grown up with American gymnastics being a dominant force, has that helped inspire you and is there any gymnast in particular that has really inspired you?
I loved Shawn Johnson because she was so powerful and one of my favorites on the 2008 Olympic team.
15) And finally, is there any gymnastics blood in your family or are you the only gymnast?
No, sadly nobody in my family history did gymnastics.