Gabby 2012. Simone 2016. Sunisa 2020! Sunisa “Suni” Lee demonstrated why she’s becoming the breakout American star of the Tokyo Olympics—winning the all-around gold medal after helping the team score the silver medal during the team competition after Biles withdrew from the competition, respectively.
During the all-around final, the 18-year-old scored a 13.7 on the floor exercise, solidifying her gold medal win. The gymnast did waver a bit on balance beam during her wolf turn, but didn’t fall, and was rewarded with a 13.833 score. Her teammates, including Simone Biles, cheered her on from the stands.
Learn more about the newly-minted all-around champion right here:
Where is Suni Lee from?
Born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, Lee is the first Hmong-American athlete to compete at the Olympic Games. “She’s the realization of the dream our ancestors had,” Hmong activist Tou Ger Xiong told Pioneer Press. Suni’s parents, John Lee and Yeev Thoj, are immigrants whose families fled from Laos as refugees from the Vietnam War. For her part, Suni recognizes the pride and responsibility of representing her heritage on the world stage: “I hope I can inspire people,” she told the Star Tribune.
What happened to Suni Lee’s dad?
Suni Lee and her father, John, have always shared a special bond. He even built a makeshift balance beam in the yard to help 7-year-old Suni to pursue her passion for gymnastics. Tragedy struck two days before the 2019 US National Championships—Suni’s first major senior elite competition—when her father fell from a ladder while helping a neighbor. The fall injured his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed below his chest. At John’s insistence, Suni opted to compete anyway, where she went on to place second in the all-around and first on uneven bars. That competition sparked her eventual emergence as a serious Tokyo Olympics contender. John now uses a wheelchair but hopes to regain the ability to walk again someday. As he told ESPN, “I look at Sunisa and think about what she has had to go through to get to where she’s at, and she inspires me.”
How many Olympic medals can Suni Lee win?
Lee won the team silver medal, and the gold medal in the all-around, so she already has two Olympic medals. Lee also qualified in third place to the balance beam final, .133 behind the silver medal position. But it’s the uneven bars where Lee will go head-to-head with reigning World champion Nina Derwael of Belgium. During the team final, Lee and Derwael tied for the highest uneven bars score of the day (15.400), and Lee qualified to the apparatus final a mere .166 behind Derwael. Expect the battle between gold and silver to come down to tenths of a point.
Does Suni Lee have a boyfriend?
As of now, it seems Lee is fully committed to her Olympic goals rather than a romantic relationship.
What are Suni Lee’s plans after the Olympics?
In the fall, Lee plans to attend Auburn University on a full athletic scholarship, where she’ll make an immediate impact on the gymnastics team. “Sunisa is most likely the most decorated gymnast to ever sign with Auburn,” head coach Jeff Graba said in a statement. While fellow American Olympians Simone Biles, Jordan Chiles, and MyKayla Skinner will be members of Athleta’s Gold Over America Tour, there is no word yet on whether Lee plans to participate.
Would Suni Lee do Dancing with the Stars?
Thanks to the new name, image, likeness (NIL) legislation that now permits collegiate athletes to earn compensation, it’s possible we may see Lee take advantage of professional opportunities while pursuing her NCAA career. Will a mirror ball be in her future? If teammate Jordan Chiles’ TikTok videos are any indication, Lee isn’t afraid to let loose and have fun.
By DIANA GALLAGHER | Parade