Reigning Olympic all-around champion Sunisa Lee announced Tuesday she was ending her US college career next year to focus on trying to defend her title at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The 19-year-old American, competing for Auburn University, said in a video posting on Instagram that she will complete her sophomore season with the Tigers then return to the elite gymnastics realm.
"I am sharing a decision that has weighed on me for a really long time," Lee said.
"As an athlete that has competed at the highest level, on the world's biggest stage, I've been fortunate enough to experience that once-in-a-lifetime feeling and the indescribable emotion when a gold medal is draped around your neck.
"But I don't want it to just be once in a lifetime."
Following the withdrawal of defending all-around champion Simone Biles, Lee was a surprise gold winner last year at Tokyo.
She became the sixth US woman to capture all-around Olympic gold and the fifth in a row after Carly Patterson in 2004, Nastia Liukin in 2008, Gabby Douglas in 2012 and Biles in 2016.
"I have my sights set on Paris 2024 and I know what I have to do to get there," Lee said in her video.
Lee helped the Americans take team silver in Tokyo and collected a bronze medal on the uneven bars. She was also part of the 2019 US world championship team.
If Lee can defend her Olympic all-around crown in 2024 in France, she would become only the third woman to capture back-to-back Olympic titles in the event after Larisa Latynina of the Soviet Union in 1956 and 1960 and Vera Caslavska of Czechoslovakia in 1964 and 1968.