Exclusive: Gymnast Peng-Peng Lee

Peng-Peng Lee Interview

Gymnastics is a sport that includes exercises requiring balance, strength, flexibility, agility, coordination and endurance.  My guest today is Peng-Peng Lee.  Peng-Peng Lee walks up to the balance beam to performs a choreographed routine of up to 90 seconds in length. The crowd goes silent. The judges are ready to watch leaps, acrobatics, somersaults, turns and dance elements on a padded beam.  Note: the beam is 125 centimetres from the ground, 5 metres long and 10 centimetres wide.  The pressure is on but Peng-Peng Lee is up to the task.  Peng-Peng Lee is a Canadian artistic gymnast and a member of the Canadian team that qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

In 2018, Peng-Peng Lee took gymnastics to a whole other level when she led UCLA to a comeback win at the 2018 NCAA National Championship.  Peng-Peng Lee is also vlogging and creating stories on Youtube.  Just for fun, here are a few tips about vlogging. It is slightly more complex than the notes below but I spoke to a few sources and here are some ideas you should be aware of before filming. Think of a topic, shoot a video, edit a video, choose a platform, describe your videos and most importantly and don’t forget…interact with your audience.  Okay…now back to our regularly scheduled program. Meet my new friend from Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, Canadian artistic gymnast and actress Peng-Peng Lee.

Gymnastics Christine Jennifer Peng-Peng Lee is a Canadian artistic gymnast. She was a member of the Canadian team that qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics and committed to attend UCLA after the Olympics, where she led UCLA to a comeback win at the 2018 NCAA National Championship.
Gymnatics Peng-Peng Lee

1. Let’s go back to the beginning, Peng-Peng Lee, how did you become a Canadian artistic gymnast?

From a very young age, I had so much energy. My parents put me in gymnastics hoping to exert some of that energy. I started when I was 4.  However, I didn’t compete until I was 8. I only did gymnastics for fun and leading up to my first competition. I was indulged in a bunch of other activities, ie. track and field, swimming, golf, tennis, cooking, singing, piano, karate, badminton, and more. My parents always had a busy schedule for my brother and I.  Once I wanted to take gymnastics more seriously my parents supported me all the way. They are the most supportive and positive people! They never pushed me to do gymnastics more seriously. The grit and the passion came from me to want to continue, especially on the hard days. Peng-Peng Lee =) 

2. We all understand the physicality of being an Olympian. How do you prepare mentally to perform?

Training can be rigorous and tiring at times but during the Olympic year. I kept reminding myself of the big picture. I looked up to Roger Federer as an athlete because he is an overall legend! On those hard days leading up to the Olympics, I would think to myself “what would Roger Federer do?”.  It would help me to keep pushing. I think if you don’t love what you are doing if you aren’t passionate.  

The best advice I received from a coach in regards to competition was you only have today. You don’t know if you have tomorrow.  You might as well make today a great day! I took that with me to the competition as well! While I was in competition and the nerves started to kick in, I reminded myself that this only happens once. You might as well enjoy every single second of it. I had to bring it back to having fun while competing or else if I put the pressure off, I have to do well, I only have this one shot, etc. I wouldn’t compete at my very best. Peng-Peng Lee =)

3. For those who are not familiar with artistic gymnastics, can you tell us about your perfect tens on uneven bars and balance beam?

College gymnastics and Elite gymnastics are different. Elite gymnastics is geared toward the difficulty of a routine to gain you a higher score. In college, it is more about the execution and how “perfect” you can do your routines. In college gymnastics, you strive for the traditionally known perfect 10. That is where your routine has no deductions such as a flexed foot, a wobble, a step on your landing and not sticking it, etc… Every gymnast is striving for that perfect 10 however most of the time I’m not even thinking about the 10. Gymnastics is a subjective sport. As long as I felt like I did my very best then I’m going to act like it was a 10 in my heart.

At the 2018 NCAA National Championships, I only completed 2 events in my final year; due to my knee injuries. However, I scored 2 perfect 10’s that night! To put it into perspective, I believe that the 10 on bars had only been done 5 times in the finals, and on the beam it was again a rare occasion. I had gone up there and was just having a great time, enjoying my last routines ever with my team. I remember running back to my team after I had done those routines not even knowing what score I had gotten. It was such a special moment to share the journey with them!

The craziest part of the night happened, I didn’t know UCLA needed a 9.975 to tie for the title and my 2nd perfect 10 of the night led UCLA to win the 2018 NCAA National championship title over the smallest margin in NCAA women’s gymnastics history. When I saw the score of two perfect 10’s that night and UCLA on top it was the most amazing feeling to go through with my team. I felt like I could happily retire from the sport and close that chapter of my life. What more can you ask for in your senior year?! Peng-Peng Lee =)

4. Can you tell us more about the Peng-Peng Lee Youtube Channel?

I started a Youtube channel back in 2018 because I wanted to document my final year.  I decided to vlog and it launched my channel up! After my gymnastics career, I was struggling with how I wanted to still give back to the sport I had loved for so many years but was almost stressed out about creating new innovative content that it just didn’t work. I took a break because I was emotionally and mentally not in it and it was not a priority at the time.

I currently just got back on Youtube because I still want to give back to the next generation of athletes and started a new show with my best friend called the HONESTLEE show. We interview amazing athletes and hear their stories on how they got to where they are today. Peng-Peng Lee =)

5. What’s next for Peng-Peng Lee?

I am currently an actress and artist and am living in LA to pursue that. I want to just go for it because I’ve never had the time to when I was a student-athlete. Now I am able to pursue my new goals and dreams.  Peng-Peng Lee =)

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Jovin Tardif

Jovin Tardif is a freelance writer, storyteller, interviewer, reviewer and conversation starter.

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