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Christine Peng-Peng Lee wins top college gymnastics honor

Nicole McNamara was voted Pac-12 beach volleyball player of the year

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Christine Peng-Peng Lee on the bars
UCLA Athletics

Gymnast Christine Peng-Peng Lee won the nation's top honor in her sport.

UCLA senior Christine Peng-Peng Lee, the NCAA team and balance beam champion, was named on Thursday as the winner of this year’s Honda Sport Award for gymnastics. The Honda Sports Awards signify “the best of the best in collegiate athletics” and are awarded annually in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports. 

With this honor, Lee becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the prestigious 2018 Honda Cup, which will be presented on a live telecast on CBS Sports Network on Monday, June 25, 2018.

“Peng-Peng Lee is a pure example of how to live life with positivity and appreciation,” said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field. Peng-Peng Lee sat out her first two years of college eligibility due to a severe knee injury that took her out of the 2012 Olympics. She was ready to come back for the 2014 season before learning that her ACL reconstruction did not hold, forcing her to undergo reconstructive surgery again and sit out another year. “Through it all, she maintained the same zest for life that we saw in her performances, and it is so gratifying to see her being honored for all that she has brought to the sport of gymnastics,” Kondos Field added.

“Peng-Peng Lee’s six years at UCLA have been defined by perseverance through hardship, grace under pressure, positive leadership and exuberance for the sport of gymnastics,” said UCLA Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero. “She is always there when her team needs her; she embodies what it means to be a Bruin, and I can’t think of a more deserving winner of the Honda Sports Award.”

In her final competition, Lee scored perfect 10s on her two events – uneven bars and balance beam – to lead UCLA to its seventh NCAA title in gymnastics. She was named the Pac-12 gymnastics scholar-athlete of the year. Lee concludes her illustrious collegiate career with nine All-America awards and 10 perfect 10s, including seven this season.

“I am extremely honored to be chosen as the winner for the sport of gymnastics. This award is as much my teammates’ as it is mine,” said Lee. “I have been here for six years, and I have never experienced a team like this one. They have all made such a positive impact in my life, and the bond we have created is what made all of our success this year possible.”

More at the UCLA Athletics website.

Nicole and Megan McNamara
UCLA Athletics
Nicole and Megan McNamara

Also on Thursday, UCLA junior Nicole McNamara was named the Pac-12 beach volleyball player of the year. She and her teammate and twin sister, Megan McNamara, were named the beach volleyball pair of the year in the conference.

The McNamara twins posted a 31-7 record at the No. 1 pairs position this season, leading UCLA to its 30-win season and first Pac-12 title in beach volleyball. The duo’s 31 wins are the most of any pair in the country this season. They are the first Bruins to win the Pac-12 pair of the year honor and Nicole is the first UCLA beach volleyball competitor to win the Pac-12 player of the year honor.

The Bruins are playing for the NCAA title in beach volleyball beginning Friday at Gulf Shores Public Beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. UCLA is the number one seed in the NCAA tournament. The national championship match is scheduled for Sunday, May 6.

UCLA coach Stein Metzger was named beach volleyball coach of the year in the Pac-12.

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