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What you need to know about Olympic gold-medalist Suni Lee

Sunisa "Suni" Lee is the next queen of U.S. gymnastics. At the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the 18-year-old gymnast won gold in the individual gymnastics all-around, silver in the team all-around and bronze in the uneven bars. (Watch her winning floor routine here.) In addition to her athletic feats, Suni is also the first Hmong-American to compete in the Olympics. 

Love what you've read about Suni so far? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this amazing Olympian.

Suni's rise to stardom

Suni began her gymnastics career on a homemade balance beam. Born on March 9, 2003, she was raised in St. Paul by her family, who has supported her interest in gymnastics from the beginning. When she was 14, Suni made the U.S. Junior National Team, and in 2018, she won the gold medal at the National Championship.

Her family reunions often top 300 people, and she says she "has become something of a local celebrity" herself in an interview with Elle. She's even besties with Simone Biles!

Suni cares for her father, John, who was partially paralyzed in 2019 after falling off a ladder. She says he gives her pep talks before every meet and even encouraged her to attend a competition two days after his fall.

She's killing it in life and plans to attend Auburn University this fall, where she'll compete in collegiate gymnastics.

Suni's community

Suni is the first Hmong-American to compete in the Olympics. The Hmong are an ethnic group with roots in Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Southwest China. However, there is no fully Hmong country. After the Vietnam War, the Hmong faced violence and severe persecution in Laos because they sided with the United States. As a result, there was a dangerous mass migration of Hmong to the United States, with Minnesota and California having the largest Hmong populations.

Suni's win has highlighted the community, giving them their long-deserved national spot. Lee's father told the Associated Press, “I can’t find the words to express how happy we are, how important that was to me and my family and to the whole Hmong community throughout the world." 

GIF via GIPHY | All images via @sunisalee_

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by Julie Larick | 8/1/2021
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