Tokyo Olympics, Olympics 2021, Gymnastics, Sunisa Lee, Olympic Sports, Artistic Gymnastics

Tokyo Olympics, Olympics 2021

Suni Lee on her Olympic gold medal -- 'It doesn't feel like real life'

Sunisa Lee is the first Asian woman of any nationality to win Olympic gold in the individual all-around. The story of her unexpected road to this moment ➡️

7/29/2021 11:28:00 PM

Sunisa Lee is the first Asian woman of any nationality to win Olympic gold in the individual all-around. The story of her unexpected road to this moment ➡️

Suni Lee never thought she could win gold in the Olympic all-around. But on Thursday, she did exactly that -- making history for herself and her Hmong American community.

When she returned to her gym in Little Canada, Minnesota, in June 2020, she broke her left foot just a week into training, a setback that delayed her return and an injury that still causes her pain. She opted to do only three passes in her floor routine Thursday instead of the four she performed during the team final on Tuesday.

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Last summer, as her father, John, continued to recover from a 2019 fall from a ladder that left him paralyzed below his chest, Lee's family dealt with the loss of her aunt and uncle to COVID-19. Her city was rocked with protests in the wake of George Floyd's murder. John calls that"the hardest time" for his family.

But with the support of her coaches and large, tight-knit family, Lee refocused on her goal of making the Olympic team. As she watched her father, whom she calls her best friend, fight to regain his independence and learn new skills to help him navigate life without the use of his legs, Lee was inspired by his commitment and positive attitude. His pre-meet pep talks calmed her nerves. His dad jokes got her out of her own head.

When she returned to competition earlier this year, Lee finished behind only Simone Biles in the three biggest meets of the season. On the second day of U.S. trials, Lee earned a higher one-day all-around score than Biles, the first gymnast in more than eight years to do so.

After that performance, Lee said knowing she could outdo Biles gave her confidence, but it didn't change her goals in Tokyo. Biles has won every national, international, world championship and Olympic meet she's entered since 2013. Winning the Olympic all-around title in the Time of Biles likely never seemed a serious pursuit for any gymnast."I was coming to compete for a silver medal," Lee said Thursday.

Suni Lee helped lead the U.S. team to the silver medal on Tuesday, and now has an Olympic gold as well. Laurence Griffiths/Getty ImagesBut then Biles withdrew from Tuesday's team competition after one rotation, citing a need to care for her mental health. Without their star, the U.S. earned a silver medal. Lee stepped in for Biles on floor and hit all four of her routines. Her uneven bars score was the highest in the meet.

Then, on Wednesday, the defending Olympic gold medalist announced she was withdrawing from the all-around, and suddenly, for the first time in nearly a decade, the all-around gold was up for grabs."I had to switch gears," Lee said."We were all coming in to compete for second, and this whole season I've been second to [Biles]. There was a lot of pressure. People were counting on me to get second or win the gold medal. But I tried not to focus on that or I would have been too nervous."

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Lee's ability to stay focused under pressure, even when the world around her feels out of control or when a routine isn't going as perfectly as planned, is what earned her gold on Thursday. During her bar routine, which has the highest start value in the world, Lee was not perfect, but she corrected without pause, made her connections and once again outscored every gymnast in the meet. On beam, she made an impossible-looking save when her foot nearly missed the beam at the end of a triple wolf turn.

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Dm me if you need your bills paid Only 6 Honest people 💯✨ sunisalee_ sunisalee I'll pay the bills of the first 10 people to dm me ASAP ❤️ 👀 This just in: 🚨 Mental Helf Issue Coming Soon Proud of her mental toughness . . . having a balance beam built by her dad, then her dad falling off a ladder and being paralyzed. Strong woman!

Suni Lee on winning Olympic all-around gold: 'It doesn't even feel like real life'The newly crowned all-around champion Suni Lee told TODAY’s Hoda Kotb she was sharing the victory with her father, who sacrificed so much to keep her in the sport. “This is our dream and this our medal.” Awesome! LORD bless you sweetheart congrats 👏 👍 🏅 Lord bless your wonderful father too! I'm so happy for you. 😊 Something in me says Simone stepped out so SuniLee could step up. That is a true friend. We all have struggles, fears and setbacks. Mental issues are real, as well as success stories. Success stories mostly derive from those that faught through, and overcame. Simone should have faught through in my opinion. Champion lose and win gracefully. I still love her though.

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Team USA gymnast Suni Lee wins gold in women's all-aroundThe 18-year-old gymnast rose to the occasion to keep the Olympic all-around gold medal with Team USA after defending champ Simone Biles did not participate. she is so BEAUTIFUL - Radiating Smile Of the Love Of God Himself Amen This is the reason Ms. Simone Biles is The Goat! She literally changed the game, while UPLIFTING others. That is strength! Simone_Biles I’m crying 😢 beautiful

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Suni Lee becomes first Asian American woman to take gold in gymnastics all-aroundWith a gymnastics gold medal under her belt, Sunisa Lee ’s name is already in the history books. But the 18-year-old has broken another barrier, becoming the first Asian American woman to win gold in the Olympics’ all-around competition. - NBCAsianAmerica