Team USA Gymnast Sunisa Lee Wins Gold in the Olympics All-Around
She is the first Hmong American gymnast to win gold.
Sunisa “Suni” Lee is now an Olympic gold medalist after taking home the top prize in the women’s gymnastics individual all-around on July 29th. With a score of 57.433, she beat out silver medalist Rebeca Andrade of Brazil who scored 57.298, and Russian Olympic committee’s Angelina Melnikova, who took home bronze with a score of 57.199.
With her win, the 18-year-old also made history, becoming the first Hmong American Olympic gymnast to win a gold medal. The Hmongs are “an ethnic group from Laos, Vietnam, and parts of China that sided with the U.S. during the Vietnam War,” according to NPR. (She is also the first Hmong American gymnast to compete in the Games.) Her family and friends celebrated her win in her home state of Minnesota, home to the largest Hmong refugee community in the U.S., which had Twitter reaching for the tissues.
In a tweet, ESPN’s Jenna Laine pointed out that Lee’s father, who “built her a balance beam when they couldn’t afford one, was paralyzed falling from a ladder in 2019. She lost two relatives to COVID-19. Can only begin to imagine what this family has endured.”
Fellow U.S. gymnast Jade Carey placed eighth in the individual all-around. She stepped in to compete after Simone Biles dropped out of the individual event to focus on her mental health.
Earlier this week, the women’s U.S. gymnastics team took home silver in the team competition without Biles. Lee replaced Biles in the floor exercise to help them take home a medal. “I went out on that floor, and I just chucked every single thing,” Lee told the Star Tribune. “When I had to go out there and do it, I just needed to do what I do.”
The recent high school grad has two more chances to win gold when she competes in the Women’s Uneven Bars Finals and Women’s Balance Beam Finals.