One of the perks of having a big family is also having a crowd to cheer you on during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Or maybe that’s just for gold medalist and gymnast Suni Lee. Still, the support that her family shows while she secures the win the gold for Individual All-Around is heartwarming to watch.
On Thursday, Lee took fellow Team U.S.A. gymnast Simone Biles’ place in the all-around competition. She and Lee’s other teammates cheered her on as she conquered the competition with her balance beam and floor routines. Few others were able to see the event in person. Lee scored a total of 57.433 points, 0.135 points more than Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade.
Although the stands at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics weren’t nearly as noisy as Lee may have hoped when she earned her gold medal, at home, her family shook the earth with their pride and love for her. Lee is a first-generation American whose family is originally from Laos. Lee’s immediate family resides in a Hmong community in St. Paul, Minnesota. Although they’d rather have supported her in person, the gymnast’s family still huddled around the TV, watching her performance closely. Once the announcer read Lee’s score, the room of familiar faces erupted in cheers. They hugged, laughed and cried as they saw their girl take the highest spot on the pedestal.
And at the center of it all were her proud parents.
2020 Tokyo Olympics Athlete’s Win Serves As Important Reminder to Her Family
Amid the crowd of proud faces and “Team Suni” T-shirts are her parents, who already look amazed with their daughter’s performance in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Lee’s mother, in the black sweatshirt, has perhaps the loudest scream once she hears that her daughter won the gold medal. Just like for every athlete, the mother’s support is always the loudest among the crowd. Beside her sits Lee’s father, whose energy, despite being unable to stand, fills the entire room.
It’s hard not to get goosebumps when you watch Lee’s family celebrate her victory–especially once they start chanting “U.S.A.” For this community, Lee’s win reminded them of their journey to this country and their pride in their home. For them, freedom wasn’t always a guarantee.
During the 1960s, the U.S. recruited Hmong communities to help them in the war against communism. These communities fought to keep the North Vietnamese out of Laos in exchange for protection from the U.S. Once Vietnam conquered Laos and the U.S. removed its troops, the Hmong communities fled to Thailand and then resettled in the States.
Among them was Lee’s parents, who at the time were only children. Now, their daughter represents their journey to freedom and safety in front of the whole world.
“The Hmong here are very proud to be American,” Sia Long, a distant relative of Lee’s shared with Star Tribune. “We hope all of America is proud of Suni. What she’s achieved showcases what is possible here in the United States.”