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Big Break


Breaking will make its debut debut a first public appearance (noun) BTS made its debut in 2013. as an Olympic sport in August. The competition will take place at the largest public square in Paris, France. It’s sold out. But when breaker Sunny Choi tells strangers she’ll be competing at the Olympics, they laugh.

It can be hard to convince people that breaking, or breakdancing, deserves to be an Olympic sport. “I just have to hope that you see it one day,” Choi tells TIME.

HOME BASE Queens Community House, in Forest Hills, New York, is a “legendary practice spot,” Choi says.


Breaking is a judged event, like gymnastics and figure skating. No one says those aren’t sports. And since breakers battle head-to-head, there’s no point system. Whoever moves better goes to the next round.

“There’s no doubt in my mind this is a sport,” says Choi, whose first name is Sun. Her parents call her Sunny. So she made it her stage name. “Dance. Art. Sport,” she says. “All together.”

Sunny's Road

Choi’s parents moved to the United States from South Korea. They raised their kids to work hard. Choi became a gymnast. “I remember her doing cartwheels in diapers,” her brother Jin says.

GYMNAST DAYS Choi (front row center) poses with her gymnastics team, in Kentucky, around 2000.


One night at college, Choi saw members of a breaking club dancing. They persuaded her to come to a class. Choi’s gymnastics skills gave her an advantage advantage something that helps a person succeed (noun) Because Kelly started young, she has an advantage in chess club. . After graduating business school, she began a career as a cosmetics executive. But on the side, she kept breaking.

Breaking was added to the Paris Olympics program in 2020. In late 2021, Choi attended a camp. It was for the top U.S. breakers. A coach there asked aspiring Olympians to raise their hands. Everyone’s hand went up except Choi’s. Working full-time while training to make the Olympic team seemed impossible.

SEEING DOUBLE Choi sees herself on a Los Angeles billboard while on the Team U.S.A. Road to Paris bus tour, in 2023.


But after finishing second at the World Games in July 2022, Choi left her job. In 2023, she qualified for Paris by winning the Pan American Games (see “Winning Moment”). “I’m so much happier,” she says. “I feel lighter.”

Paris Prep

Thirty-two breakers will participate in Paris. Choi is seen as a top contender. She has “power moves,” says Mary Fogarty, an associate professor of dance at York University, in Toronto, Canada. “Sunny is someone who has enough material to go all the way through.”

IT’S SHOWTIME Choi shows off her skills at the Breaking for Gold U.S.A. competition in Brooklyn, New York, on April 22, 2023.


Choi struggles with self-doubt. So before the Games, she’ll meet with a psychologist. She’ll work on her mindset. She’ll lift weights with a strength coach. And she’ll eat a healthy diet.

Choi is confident about one thing: If you give breaking a chance, you won’t be disappointed. “You feel our energy,” she says. “You feel the excitement. You feel the happiness or the anger or whatever emotion that the dancer is expressing in that moment. It’s so visceral visceral felt with the gut; strongly felt (adjective) Tim has a visceral hatred for Brussels sprouts. and raw. I don’t think you get that anywhere else.”

Winning Moment


The Pan American Games took place in Santiago, Chile, in 2023. There, Choi front-flipped in the air, shuffled her feet, and spun to the ground. Then she flashed a peace sign at her opponent. It was as if Choi was saying, “This is mine.”

The judges agreed. The crowd cheered. Choi’s team piled on top of her when she was declared the winner. It was a special moment. “What’s so cool about breaking is you get to be authentically you,” she says.