Christine Peng-Peng Lee was scrolling through Twitter when she found out she won co-Pac-12 Woman of the Year.
“I saw that I had a mention so I started reading it and I started kind of freaking out,” Lee said. “I was shocked.”
The former UCLA gymnast won this year’s award alongside Stanford track and field’s Valarie Allman. She is only the second Bruin ever to earn the recognition, with fellow Canadian Kate Richardson winning in 2006.
“Everything just keeps happening,” Lee said. “All these awards keep coming in and I couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end.”
Lee led the Bruins to their first NCAA title since 2010 this past season, posting two back-to-back 10s to clinch the championship meet. She also finished the year atop the team in total 10s earned, scoring five on the balance beam and two on the uneven bars.
After also winning the individual NCAA title on beam, Lee took home an array of postseason honors, including Pac-12 Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the Honda Sport Award for Gymnastics and the Tom Hansen Conference Medal.
“It’s crazy because I feel like after (the) season, all of these amazing things keep piling up for me,” Lee said.
The former six-year senior first joined the Bruins as a freshman in the 2013 season and redshirted her first two years after undergoing two knee surgeries.
In her first official season in 2015, Lee was named a First-team Regular Season All-American and earned All-Pac-12 honors on uneven bars and balance beam.
The 2016 season was reminiscent of Lee’s redshirt years, as she missed five meets due to another knee surgery. In 2017, she came back to win West Region Gymnast of the Year and Pac-12 Specialist of the Year, earning the first perfect 10 of her career on beam.
“I don’t need the awards to complete my athletic career,” Lee said. “I (just) hope that I can inspire other young athletes that, even if they are going through adversity, amazing things can happen.”
Lee graduated from UCLA in winter of 2017 and has since continued to entertain crowds at one of the most familiar attractions in the country – SeaWorld.
Lee said she is spending the summer performing in SeaWorld’s IlumiNight show in San Diego. The show, which is a part of the park’s Electric Ocean Light Festival, combines acrobats, dancers and gymnasts with sea life.
Through all her success during and after her six years at UCLA, Lee credits her fellow Bruins and coaches.
She said, when concluding her final meeting with the team this year, she left them with the advice that had been the key to their championship season – sticking together.
“It all goes back to my teammates,” Lee said. “I wouldn’t have been able to have the best year of my life if it wasn’t for my team (and) if it wasn’t for my coaches. I came out with an amazing support system and a family within the Bruin team.”