2020 Tokyo Olympics: How Suni Lee Created History with Individual All-Around Gold Medal

by Anna Dunn

Suni Lee just made history with her gold medal in the Individual All-Around Gymnastics finals in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Lee recently became the fifth consecutive American to win the women’s All-Around gymnastics finals at the Olympics. Lee, whose typically quite calm, burst into tears at the news that she would take home the gold.

But it’s been quite the journey for Lee. Lee is the first-ever Hmong American to compete at the Olympics. Now, she’s made history as the first-ever Hmong American gold medalist. Not only that, but Lee is the first Asian woman of any nationality to ever win Gold in the all-around.

“My community is so amazing,” Lee told ESPN. “They were all watching together and got to see me win a gold medal. Many people from the Hmong community don’t reach their goals, and I want them to know you can reach your dreams and don’t ever give up. You never know.”

Lee Had To Overcome A Difficult Past To Get to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

And the past few years for Lee have been incredibly difficult. The young gymnast broke her foot while training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last June. In 2019, her father was paralyzed in a devastating accident. Then, tragically, just a year later, both her Aunt and Uncle passed away due to COVID-19. It was an incredibly difficult time for their family, but Lee continued on her journey to the Olympics with their support.

In competition this year, the only person Lee medaled behind was Simone Biles. However, too many are quick to discount her win, saying that she wouldn’t have won the recent all-around if Biles was competing. That’s not necessarily true. In the second day of U.S trials, Lee actually earned a higher score in the all-around than Biles. That, also, was outstanding as she was the first person in eight years to do so.

Still, Lee felt like she was gunning for silver going into the Olympic competition.

“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,” she said. “But I tried not to focus on that or I would have been too nervous.”

And in the all-around, Lee proved herself a winner in her own right. Right before the medal ceremony, she dialed her family. They were all watching the 2020 Tokyo Olympics unfold from home.

“We all started crying. It was a very surreal moment,” she said.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics aren’t over yet. There are still plenty more sporting events to watch, including more gymnastics events. If you’d like to watch, you can tune in on NBC, the NBC Sports app, Peacock, or NBCOlympics.com.