Lu made the Chinese national team in late 1991. However, liver illness almost prevented her from competing in the Olympics. In April 1992, just a few months before the Barcelona Games, she made her international debut at the World Championships in Paris, where her highly innovative uneven bars routine caught the attention of the gymnastics world. Because of a big step on the dismount, she only placed 4th (although she was the leading gymnast in qualifying for the final). Many thought she could have become world champion had she been able to stick her landing.
Lu is best known for her gold medal on bars in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. She won this with a perfect 10, which she achieved on the same night as Lavinia Miloșovici, who received more publicity for hers. Lu Li also won a silver on beam in the same games (tied with American Shannon Miller with a score of 9.912), making her China's second most successful female Olympic gymnast after Liu Xuan, although a lot of gymnastics fans considered her beam routine too simple to deserve a tied-silver with Miller (Lu actually qualified first for the beam finals after strong showing in both team compulsories and optionals). Lu had troubles on her beam performance in the all-round competition though, and placed a disappointing 34th.
Lu competed in the 1993 Chinese National Games and won the uneven bars title (tied with Luo Li, who would go on to win the 1994 World Championships in Brisbane). She retired shortly thereafter.
In 2000, Lu Li moved to California and was a coach there. She is also happily married to Kim David Gussenhoven and has a son named J. She recently moved to North Carolina in 2007, and was still a coach. Then, in 2009, Lu Li moved to Stockton, California and coached at Champion Gymnastics Academy. On September 1, 2009, Li, Kim, and J moved to Washington and was hired to coach at Emerald City Gymnastics in Redmond. Recently, she has started coaching gymnasts in Gig Harbor.