Suni Lee Becomes First Hmong American to Win an Olympic Gold Medal

Suni Lee won the Olympic gold medal in the individual all-around gymnastics competition on Thursday.

The 18-year-old from Minnesota made history with her win by becoming the first Hmong American to win a gold medal.

Lee is known for having one of the most complex routines on uneven bars, so it’s no surprise she earned the gold.

Lee’s gymnastic journey has been a tough one, but she’s always had the support of her family to get her through it. One of the memories she recalls, was of her father building her a balance beam because they could not afford to buy one.

“I’m just super proud of myself for making it here because there was a point in time when I wanted to quit,” said Lee.

Suni Lee Becomes First Hmong American to Win an Olympic Gold Medal
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

The gymnast had a difficult time the last two years, with her father becoming paralyzed and suffering injuries herself.

 In 2020, she had to take a break from her training due to the pandemic, and upon her return, she suffered an injury to her ankle which put her out of commission for three months.

Lee actually thinks that the break was actually beneficial to her and helped her “mentally and physically.”

Luckily, after all of her training and overcoming many obstacles she was able to make it to the Olympics.

Her win was a bittersweet moment because she was not able to have her father, her biggest supporter, attend the Olympics due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“He always told me if I win the gold medal he would come out on the ground and do a backflip. It’s sad that he can’t be here, but this is our dream and this our medal,” Lee told Hoda Kotb during an interview.

“We both worked for this. He sacrificed everything to put me in gymnastics. Both my parents really have. This is my family’s medal, my medal, my coach’s medal,” she added.

Lee also won her medal for the Hmong community which she said is “really close” back in her hometown.

She said that her win “means a lot to the Hmong community … and to just be an inspiration to other Hmong people [means] a lot to me too.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images/ Sports Illustrated