DU Gymnast Lynnzee Brown Named Honda Inspiration Award Finalist – University of Denver Athletics

DENVER – University of Denver gymnast and graduate student Lynnzee Brown has been named one of three finalists for the Honda Inspiration Award, the Collegiate Women Sports Awards announced on Tuesday.
The Honda Inspiration Award is presented to a female athlete who has experienced serious physical and/or emotional adversity, injury and/or illness, or experienced extraordinary personal sacrifice during her collegiate career and returned to competition at the collegiate level. The three finalists will be featured during a special broadcast titled “Defying the Odds: The 2023 Honda Inspiration Award”, set to air on CBS Sports Network on Monday, June 19, at 8 p.m. ET/6 p.m. MT before the winner is announced via press release on Tuesday, June 20.
Joining Brown as this year’s finalists are Grace Taylor (Harvard sophomore lacrosse player) and Mahalia White (North Florida redshirt junior volleyball player).
Brown overcame not one but two season-ending Achilles injuries during her six-year career at Denver, the first in February 2020 and the second in January 2022. Both times, she re-established herself as one of the top all-around gymnasts in the country. She began recover and rehab from her first Achilles injury just weeks before shutdowns began due to the COVID-19 pandemic, giving her another obstacle to an already challenging injury to recover from. Her second injury occurred just weeks into her fifth-year/”COVID”-year of eligibility.
Additionally, Brown faced the challenge of returning to competition after suddenly losing her mother in May 2019 – just weeks after winning an NCAA national title on floor and the last time she would see her mom.
Brown returned to competition after her 2020 injury in time for Denver’s season opener in 2021, competing in the all-around and beginning what would be one of the most successful individual seasons in Denver Gymnastics history. She finished the season ranked No. 2 in the country in the all-around and on bars, as well as No. 3 on floor. She scored three perfect 10.0s during the 2021 postseason and placed in the top 10 on bars, beam and floor at the NCAA National Championships.
Her gift of a fifth year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic came to halt when she suffered a second Achilles injury less than a month into the 2022 season. After seeing her teammates rally around her and recognizing the team’s potential to be one of the best in the country, she opted for yet another comeback and accepted a medical redshirt for the 2023 season, returning to competition yet again in the first meet of the year.
During her rehab in 2022, Brown kept the focus on getting her team to the NCAA National Championships. As she would say publicly, she had enjoyed her individual successes during the 2021 season, but she treasured the memories made with her team at the 2019 NCAA National Championships. She wanted nothing more than for the talented 2023 squad to have the same experience.
She strategically returned to competition on all four events this past season, eventually competing in the all-around in the final nine meets of the year and scoring a perfect 10.0 on floor along the way. At NCAA Regionals, she scored a 9.950 in seven of eight routines, and her 39.800 performance in the NCAA Regional Final became the second-highest score in DU history while helping lead Denver back to the NCAA National Championships – the exact goal she set out to achieve at the start of her rehab.
At the 2023 NCAA National Championships, she finished as an NCAA co-runner up on vault while placing fourth in the all-around – a new Denver record – and tying for eighth on floor. During the NCAA National Semifinals broadcast on ESPN2 as Brown competed in her final collegiate routine, commentator Kathy Johnson Clarke said it best: “Watching this performance, it’s so easy to forget how hard gymnastics is and what she has done…to come back twice from Achilles tears and just with a smile on her face and joy in her heart. That’s a gift to all of us. The power, the grace, the heart, she just put it all out there on the floor exercise for everyone to take in this moment.”
Like many young gymnasts, Brown shared a dream with her mom of one day competing at the Olympics, a goal she has now turned her sights toward. She recently began her road to the 2024 Paris Olympics – and toward a dream fulfilled for her late mom – by representing Haiti at the 2023 Pan American Championships where she secured a spot at the 2023 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships. There, she will have the opportunity to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games.

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