Get to Know U.S. Olympic Gymnast All-Around Gold Medalist Suni Lee

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Where is Suni Lee from?
Born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, Lee is the first Hmong-American athlete to compete at the Olympic video games. “She’s the belief of the dream our ancestors had,” Hmong activist Tou Ger Xiong told Pioneer Press. Suni’s dad and mom, John Lee and Yeev Thoj, are immigrants whose households fled from Laos as refugees from the Vietnam war. For her element, Suni acknowledges the pleasure and obligation of representing her heritage on the arena degree: “i’m hoping i’m able to encourage human beings,”

What happened to Suni Lee’s dad?
Suni Lee and her father, John, have always shared a special bond. He even built a makeshift balance beam in the yard to help 7-year-old Suni to pursue her passion for gymnastics. Tragedy struck two days before the 2019 US National Championships—Suni’s first major senior elite competition—when her father fell from a ladder while helping a neighbor. The fall injured his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed below his chest. At John’s insistence, Suni opted to compete anyway, where she went on to place second in the all-around and first on uneven bars. That competition sparked her eventual emergence as a serious Tokyo Olympics contender. John now uses a wheelchair but hopes to regain the ability to walk again someday. As he told ESPN, “I look at Sunisa and think about what she has had to go through to get to where she’s at, and she inspires me.”

What are Suni Lee’s plans after the Olympics?
In the fall, Lee plans to attend Auburn University on a full athletic scholarship, where she’ll make an immediate impact on the gymnastics team. “Sunisa is most likely the most decorated gymnast to ever sign with Auburn,” head coach Jeff Graba said in a statement. While fellow American Olympians Simone Biles, Jordan Chiles, and MyKayla Skinner will be members of Athleta’s Gold Over America Tour, there is no word yet on whether Lee plans to participate.

Would Suni Lee do Dancing with the Stars?
Thanks to the new name, image, likeness (NIL) legislation that now permits collegiate athletes to earn compensation, it’s possible we may see Lee take advantage of professional opportunities while pursuing her NCAA career. Will a mirror ball be in her future? If teammate Jordan Chiles’ TikTok videos are any indication, Lee isn’t afraid to let loose and have fun.

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