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Chih Kai Lee

For gymnast Chih Kai Lee, a life of pain leads to eternal moments of glory

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Chih Kai Lee’s signature Thomas Flairs move—where he walks on the pommel horse with his hands while his legs swing around like helicopter blades—garnered him a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics last August 2021, making him the first Taiwanese gymnast to bring home metal. Covered in bandages, his virtually flawless execution was .3 points below the gold winner, a margin of defeat that is pushing Lee to become “Chih KaiLee 4.0” or the best version of himself performing a Thomas Flair never before seen. Lee has been grinding extra hard ever since he joined the elementary school gymnastics team and committed to the physically punishing training schedule of a competitive gymnast. He won a string of golds at the 2017 Taipei Universiade, the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, the 2019 Napoli Universiade, and the 2019 Ulaanbaatar Asian Championships.

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Taiwanese gymnastics started to gain attention with the 2005 documentary Jump! Boys, which featured Chih Kai Lee and his elementary school teammates. The follow-up film Jump! Men followed Lee throughout his training and competitions and included his traumatic fall in the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

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