With COVID-19 still raging in several parts of the world, fans couldn’t fill the stadiums at the Tokyo Olympics this year. This means that family members and friends of the athletes also couldn’t cheer them on in person.
But Lee still had plenty of love and support from her family back home in Minnesota. Photographers and videographers gathered around the Lees’ viewing room to capture their reaction to Suni’s gold medal victory. The resulting cheers and pure joy that erupted from everyone is absolutely heartwarming to watch.
And Suni Lee took to Twitter shortly after the competition ended to remind everyone why she competes to win.
“the people i do it all for,” she wrote. “I LOVE YOU ALL.”
Lee made history as the first Hmong-American Olympic gymnast, and she’s now the first to win a medal as well. When talking to People magazine before the competition, Lee said she knows her success “means a lot to the Hmong community … and to just be an inspiration to other Hmong people [means] a lot to me too.”
In the all-around competition, Lee finished with a score of 57.433, beating out Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade by 0.135 points. Though she only took home the silver, Andrade is still the first Brazilian woman to win a gymnastics medal. With Lee’s gold medal victory, she now brings the U.S. to a total of five straight wins in the women’s all-around gymnastic competition for the Olympics.
Suni Lee Talks About Being a Gold Medal Winner at the Tokyo Olympics
After the all-around gymnastics competition at the Toyko Olympics, Lee talked to reporters at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre. CNN reports that Lee described her win as “surreal,” especially with all the trials she’s been through lately.
“The past two years have been absolutely crazy with Covid and my family and everything else,” Lee said. Her aunt and uncle died of COVID last year, and in 2019, her father suffered an accident that paralyzed him. She also recovered from a broken ankle and injured Achilles tendon last year.
“This medal definitely means a lot to me, because there was a point in time when I wanted to quit and I just didn’t think I would ever be here, including injuries and stuff,” Lee continued. “So there are a lot of emotions, but I’m definitely super proud of myself for sticking with it and believing in myself.”
Lee stepped up to fill the spot vacated by four-time Olympic gold-medalist Simone Biles. Biles stepped back from the team and all-around competitions this week due to mental health concerns. She’s been under a great deal of pressure lately, and Lee admitted to feeling that strain as well.
“I was starting to put a little bit too much pressure on myself,” said Lee. “Knowing that Simone was gone, I feel like people kind of put that pressure on me that I had to come back with a medal. I tried not to think about … (and) just focus on myself and do what I normally do because that’s when I compete the best.”
Lee will return on Sunday, August 1, for the uneven bars individual event finals.