I just didnt want to see myself fall back, she said. A St. Paul gymnast is dedicating her Olympic dreams to her dad. Auburn gymnastics coach Jeff Graba welcomes Suni Lee to Auburn on Tuesday, Aug. 10 As an elite gymnast, Lee competed primarily as individual while representing the gym owned by her coach,. We had the full house, so we were pretty loud.. andTodayare both part of the NBCUniversal family.). The Team USA gymnast, 20, shared a health . Lee said her father "sacrificed everything" to help her achieve her dreams. In Biles absence, Lee rose to the challenge and secured Team USAs gold medal-winning streak in the all-around competition, which the womens gymnastics team has dominated every year since the 2004 Athens Olympics when Carly Patterson snagged the top spot.  In January 2022, she responded in the comment section of a TikTok video about facing racial comments from her own Hmong-American community for expressing her interracial relationship with USC Trojans football player Jaylin Smith.. Now, Suni has left Japan with a. Lee scored a15.300 with that routine on the first day of competition at the Olympic Trials, which was a meet- and career-high. During the all-around final, Lee hit all four of her routines to win the gold medal, surpassing Brazil's Rebeca Andrade and ROC's Angelina Melnikova. , tenth most decorated American female gymnast, 2018 Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships, History of the Hmong in MinneapolisSaint Paul, "Suni Lee's gold medal Olympics moment is America at its best (let's not ruin it)", "Gymnast Sunisa Lee's Gold Medal Elates Her Hometown Hmong Community", "Meet Suni Lee, USA's uneven bars specialist and the first Hmong American Olympic gymnast", "As Gymnast Sunisa Lee Wins Gold, Her Hometown Hmong Community Has Her Back", "St. Paul Hmong-American gymnast leaps toward her Olympic dream and history", "This Gymnast hasn't turn off her Olympic Countdown", "Olympic hopeful Sunisa Lee gets a big boost from father's presence at U.S. gymnastics championships", "St. Paul Olympian Sunisa Lee one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people of 2021", "Olympic gold medallist says she was pepper sprayed in racist attack", "Meet Suni Lee's Boyfriend Jaylin SmithSome Of Her Fans Are Angry He's Black", "USA Gymnastics announces women's spring international assignments as national team camp winds down", "U.S. On Aug. 4, 2019, just before Suni Lee left for the national championships, John Lee fell off a ladder while helping a friend trim a tree. By Annie Goldsmith Published: Jul 29, 2021. Now, not only is Lee an Olympian, but she became the first Hmong American to make a U.S. Olympic team, which was a personal goal of hers. , A few months after the 2020 Olympic Games Lee competed on season 30 of Dancing with the Stars. While most of the world suffered throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the devastation was extra personal for Lee. Suni Lee and her father, John, have always shared a special bond. Both of Lee's parents, John Lee and Yeev Thoj, were born in Laos and took refuge in the United States following the Vietnam War. We know *exactly* which destinations are going to be hot this year because we asked our favorite globe . Im already not, like, a normal teenager; I dont go to football games and all that stuff. Check out the hottest fashion, photos, movies and TV shows! In the world of elite gymnastics, these young women can either go pro and accept sponsorship deals and endorsements, or head to college and compete on the school's gymnastics team. , In August 2019, just days before Lee competed in her first senior USA Gymnastics National Championships, her father fell off of a ladder while helping a friend, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.  She was a member of the teams that won gold at the 2019 World Championships and silver at the 2020 Summer Olympics. Now I realize that if he didnt push me like that, I wouldnt be in the spot I am right now with the Olympics so close. "Im really excited to get there., Why Does Simone Biles Wear a Goat? The U.S. gymnastics championships, the first step toward securing a spot on the Tokyo Olympic team, yes. The gold medal came after years of hard work and overcoming injuries. I think its just a really proud moment overall because its such a hard bar routine and when it finally came together, it just felt like all my hard work paid off, Lee said, via USA TODAY Sports. Just days after her father's devastating accident, Suni Lee made her senior debut at the US gymnastics championships - competing in honor of her father. Lee achieved what countless gymnastics have aimed to do make the Olympic team. Trump motion to declare mistrial in E. Jean Carroll lawsuit denied, Tornado hits Virginia Beach, likely damaging hundreds of homes, U.S. to let Afghan evacuees renew temporary legal status, Texas man who lost wife and son in shooting shares story, NYPD officer Troy Patterson dies 33 years after being shot in robbery, Supreme Court to hear case that could curb power of federal agencies, The weirdest items passengers leave behind in Ubers, MasterChef Australia host Jock Zonfrillo found dead at 46, Simone Biles withdraws from individual all-around final.  Evionn also competed in artistic gymnastics at the regional level. Lee competed in the Hopes division in 2015 and became a junior elite in 2016. I knew he was watching me, so I did great for him., Unsurprisingly, the elite gymnast still has her dads back. Lee grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, where there is a large Hmong community that settled there as refugees in the late 1970s and 1980s. Lee has long dreamed of being the first Hmong Olympian, and that wish finally came true for her. She fell off both and placed tenth and eighth respectively. , On July 28, Lee competed at the 2018 U.S. Classic where she finished fifth in the all-around. Lees biggest competition in the all-around will come from teammate Simone Biles, who is the favorite to take home the gold. Sunisa " Suni " Lee  (born Sunisa Phabsomphou; March 9, 2003)  is a Hmong American artistic gymnast.  There, she won the gold medal with the U.S. team in the team final and won the silver medal on vault, balance beam, and floor exercise. Suni Lee just earned a spot on the US World Team, while her dad is in the hospital paralyzed w/ a spinal cord injury. Published on April 3, 2023 02:41 PM. He even built her own balance beam to help her with her training in their backyard because they couldn't afford to. Here are five things to know about Lee ahead of this summers Games. Life & Style has affiliate partnerships so we may receive compensation for some links to products and services. A champion and trailblazer Suni enjoys camping and fishing, is a fan of Harry Potter . At first, her fathers accident looked like itd put her Olympic dreams on hold because the event is an unofficial pre-qualifier for the Games and Graba didnt think it was safe for Lee to compete while distracted. , At the 2019 U.S. National Championships, Lee competed all four events on the first day of competition and was in second place in the all-around behind Simone Biles and in first place on uneven bars. Her dad gave Simone a shout-out after his daughter's win, telling the newsshow, "I want to tell Simone that she truly is the GOAT because she let my baby girl bring the gold medal. She hit all three of her routines, including her uneven bars routine which scored 15.400 (tying the highest mark of the competition in any event), and helped the United States finish second behind the Russian Olympic Committee.. The coach enjoyed a front-row seat watching the precocious gymnasts natural dynamism and balance, which propelled her from a boisterous child into an American champion. thank you for always being my number 1 supporter & my bestfriend. Also named to the team were Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum. It would be cool to show that we are more than what they say.. She placed first on bars and third on beam, behind Skye Blakely and Jordan Chiles, even though she used a relatively low-scoring layout dismount. More so, however, for her father to be able to watch her compete in person. "I was thinking of my dad the whole time, and to do it for him because I knew that he would be so proud," she said, according to Olympics.com. "So, I couldn't afford a real beam, so I built her one.". Following her first-place win in the all-around, Lee will soon be back on the mat to compete in the individual event finals, where shes expected to crush the uneven bars and the routine she is most known for. It so happened that in August 2019, just a couple of days before Suni's first major senior elite competition i.e. In the team final of the World Championships, Lee competed on uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise and helped the USA win the gold medal ahead of Russia and Italy. In September, Lee competed at the US World Championships trials, where she placed second in the all-around behind Simone Biles, losing by only 0.350 points. Lee is now headed into the individual event rounds with two medals under her belt.  She also won the gold medal on bars and floor, as well as the bronze medal on beam behind reigning World Champion Liu Tingting of China and teammate Emma Malabuyo. Lees parents, John and Yeev, both hail from Laos but are also Hmong, an ethnic group largely found in the mountainous regions of Southeast Asia and parts of China who fought beside the US in the Vietnam War, Elle reported. It was based on the Hmong people, and even still no one knows. UPDATE: Lee won gold in the womens gymnastics all-around! Suni Lee is the first Hmong American gymnast to compete in the Olympics Lee's parents, John and Yeev, both hail from Laos but are also Hmong, an ethnic group largely found in the mountainous. Jamie Squire/Getty Images Lee is congratulated by teammate Jade Carey after . As Suni Lee looks forward to challenging for the podium spot in the gymnastics individual category, let's find out how her father helped her in realising her dreams. As for her biological dad, his identity is unclear. FORT WORTH, Texas Suni Lee has been waiting for this. In 2019, as Lee prepared for the U.S. National Gymnastics Championships, her father fell from a ladder while . On the anniversary, I texted him and said, Dad, Im so proud of how far youve come and that youve come back so strong,' she revealed to the outlet.  She qualified for elite at age 11. Dad recently suffered a spinal injury after a fall. First Hmong American to make Team USA", "A whole bunch of Minnesotans could be legitimate contenders for the 2020 Olympics", "Torrez, Alipio win all-around titles at 2019 American Classic", "USA Gymnastics names eight women eligible for 2019 U.S. Women's Pan American Games Team", "Biles, McClain win all-around titles at 2019 GK U.S. Classic", "Biles soars to top of all-around rankings at 2019 U.S. Championships, performing two new skills along the way", "Biles soars to sixth U.S. women's all-around title at 2019 U.S. Championships", "USA Gymnastics announces 2019 U.S. Women's World Championships Team", "USA advances to women's team, individual finals at 2019 World Championships", "Simone Biles breaks record; U.S. women win gymnastics world team title", "Simone Biles wins fifth world all-around title by record margin", "Carey, Biles, Lee all medal in event finals at 2019 World Championships", "Olympic, World champions gear up for star-studded Stuttgart World Cup", "Impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the upcoming FIG events", "Gymnast Suni Lee makes history with debut at Tokyo Olympics", "GAME-CHANGER: Auburn gymnastics signs world champion Sunisa Lee", "Blakely claims 2021 American Classic senior all-around title, eight qualify to U.S. But its the unparalleled mental strength that she has shown during the most difficult time of her life that make her the person she is.. Suni decided to compete and finished in second place behind Simone, as her father watched proudly from his hospital bed.  With six world championship and Olympic medals, she is tied with Gabby Douglas, Kim Zmeskal, Kyla Ross, and Rebecca Bross as the tenth most decorated American female gymnast. Simone Biles celebrated the father of fellow gold medalist Suni Lee by helping to give John Lee a new electric wheelchair on Today. According to USA Today, her father, John Lee, was helping a friend trim a tree when he fell off a ladder. We won't post to any of your accounts without asking first. Sign up for the For The Win newsletter to get our top stories in your inbox every morning. Just before her uncle died from the virus, she was only able to say goodbye over Zoom. In an interview with Elle magazine, Suni opened up about how her Olympic dreams started with just a lumpy mattress and a piece of plywood. And no way was John Lee going to miss this. "Even though we can't go and support her in-person, I'm glad that we could share with the world," John told CBS Minnesota after his daughter's Olympic performance this week. But he told me to go, that he really wanted me to go. , The following month, Lee injured her ankle, and in June, she sustained a hairline fracture to her left tibia while practicing a balance beam dismount. Lee did not compete for the remainder of the season due to the pandemic. , In June, Lee competed at the 2021 National Championships. Lee currently has the most difficult bars routine in the world, which she performed during the team competition. Lee is a six-time member of the U.S. women's national gymnastics team and is the first Hmong-American Olympian. All Rights Reserved. During the Vietnam War, many Hmong natives lost their land and fled to Thailand before landing in the US. "It means a lot," John Lee said. After all, Lee is a favorite to take home several medals, including in team competition, the all-around and uneven bar finals.  She has three half-siblings, Evionn, Lucky, and Noah, through her mother's relationship with Lee, and Lee had two children, Jonah and Shyenne, from a previous relationship. John Lee said the last time he saw his daughter compete in person was about three years ago. I think I just wanted to have a real college experience and to be able to have fun, she told The Auburn Plainsman. Suni Lee, an 18-year-old Team USA gymnast from Minnesota, just took home the gold medal for the women's gymnastics all-around at the Tokyo Olympics. Despite this, Suni considers John her father and changed her last name to his. Whatever she sets her mind to, she'll go for it," he said. However, Biles, 24, bowed out of the all-around contest after suddenly dropping out of the team finals the day before, due to struggles with her mental health setting off a free-for-all where the gold was suddenly in reach for Lee and her competition. Maybe because of Sunisa, people might know us.".  During the balance beam final, Lee placed fifth with a score of 13.866, after a large balance check on one of her elements. But Lee could certainly be looking at a silver medal. Required fields are marked *. Their first score of 37 was given after their Foxtrot ( Video ). Lee injured his spinal cord and broke several bones and ribs when he fell off a ladder while helping trim a tree at a.  She was the only first-year senior named to the team and the only team member without prior World Championships experience. John Lee, father of Sunisa Lee of Team United States, celebrates after she won gold in the Women's All-Around gymnastics Final on day six of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at a watch party on July 29, 2021 in Oakdale, Minnesota. But we're sure Suni's parents will continue to beam with pride as they watch their daughter perform and remember where she started. "Especially now that Sunisa is getting close to the end of her (elite) gymnastics career and Im able to come and watch it. It means a great deal.". We've received your submission. Viewers can watch Lee compete in the primetime coverage of today's all-around final (July 29 at 8 p.m. on NBC), as well in the uneven bars final (August 1 at 11 p.m. on NBC), and balance beam final (August 3 at 8 p.m. on NBC). The 18-year-old has made a tremendous impact in the ongoing edition of the quadrennial event and has made it to the finals without breaking a sweat in the earlier rounds. This was the only third time in Biles' senior career, and the first time since 2013, when someone else posted a higher one-day all-around score. How to Watch the 2023 Indian Wells Tournament, T&C Culture Watch: On the Agenda for March 2023. Who Is Roger Federer's Wife Mirka Federer. Sunisa "Suni" Lee (born Sunisa Phabsomphou; March 9, 2003) is a Hmong American artistic gymnast. According to reports, Suni's father fell off of a ladder while helping a friend trim a tree on Aug. 4, 2019, just one day before the then-Olympic hopeful left for the national championships. Lee won with a total score of 57.433. , Later that month, Lee competed at the American Classic on only bars and beam. But when I get to college, it feels like its going to be so much more fun, I guess, and like, free.. "Hi, Mr. Lee, it's Simone. That beam is still there., In 2019, Suni reciprocated the support her father had given her by being by his side following a devastating fall from a ladder that left him paralyzed from the waist down. A St. Paul gymnast is dedicating her Olympic dreams to her dad. Gallery: Gymnast Sunisa Lee of St. Paul photographed at the Midwest Gymnastics . Lee's 15.4 point score on bars was the highest score of the night. But her father was never far from her mind. Her coach's twin brother, Jeff Graba, is the school's gymnastics coach and Lee will continue competing at the university. Hope you like it. John said it's Suni's Midwest mindset that made her ready to advance to Tokyo. Annie Goldsmith is the news writer for Town & Country, where she covers culture, politics, style, and the British royal family. Lee got her start at the Midwest Gymnastics Center in Little Canada, Minnesota, when she was just 6 years old under the direction of coach Punnarith Koy. Were just all so happy, we cheered her on. It was the sixth perfect ten scored by an Auburn gymnast and first since 2004. She went, and ended up placing second, after Simone Biles. What to Know About Gymnast Suni Lee, the Olympic All-Around Champion. The Minnesota native has previously talked about her father being a source of inspiration in her gymnastics career, especially following his 2019 accident. Lee is considered to have the most difficult . ", It's clear there's nothing but love between Suni's teammate and father. The 18-year-old talks about dad's support throughout her career. She was not named to the Pan-American Games team. When discussing these tragedies, Lee said, "I am tougher because of it. ", She put her gold medal around his neck,andhe remarked, "I never thought that I would ever get one of these and she did it. July 30, 2021 / 7:19 AM She won the gold medal on balance beam despite not doing a dismount. Suni also won gold on uneven bars at the 2019 US Championships even though she had a partially-healed hairline fracture in her tibia. WhenSuni Lee won the gold medalin the individual all-around gymnastics final, she knew it represented a victory for her family as much as for herself.  During the premiere episode it was revealed that her partner was Sasha Farber, the same professional Biles and Retton were partnered with. "All the hard work all the broken bones, all the time you missed vacationing with us, it paid off," John said. Lee is now not only the first Hmong-American to represent the U.S. in the Olympic Games, but also to win gold. During the uneven bars final, Lee was the first competitor to go. , In February, USA Gymnastics announced that Lee would make her senior debut at the 2019 City of Jesolo Trophy. All Rights Reserved, Please note that this form cannot be used to reset your Google, The U.S. Olympics Gymnastics Team Ranked by Height: Simone Biles, More, Heidi Klum Admits She Loves Going Topless: See Her Sexiest Photos Ever, Streaking, Nude Selfies, Oh My!  However, Lee's two-day combined score was less than Biles' and she finished the competition in second place, automatically qualifying for the Olympic team alongside Biles. He and his wife drove from Minneapolis with their three youngest children, Evionn, Lucky and Noah. In late January, it was announced that Lee would compete at the Stuttgart World Cup taking place in March.  The Stuttgart World Cup was later canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany. 2023 E! When Suni Lee won the gold medal in the individual all-around . Click PLAY or watch it on Twitter. The fall resulted in John's spinal cord being injured, paralyzing him from the chest down. Lee described the Hmong community as really close and said their support has been amazing.. John's accident happened just before national championships in Kansas City. Team USAs gold-medal gymnastics champion Sunisa Suni Lee is an 18-year-old Minnesota native who secured the top prize in the all-around contest during her Olympic debut in Tokyo. Despite these hardships, Lee told Elle that she managed to work through her grief, and the extra Covid year strengthened her performance on the uneven bars and made her a more consistent gymnast overall. Her aunt and unclewith whom she was very close; they babysat her as a kidboth died of Covid less than two weeks apart. ", Suni shared the video of her friends and family cheering at the watch party,tweeting: "The people i do it all for. There are six kids in the family Jonah, Shyenne, Evionn, Lucky, Noah and of course, Suni, who bonded with John through movement. For the Tokyo Olympics this summer, For The Win is helping you get to know some of the star Olympians competing on the worlds biggest stage. Here's What the Farm Animal Represents, Simone Biles Might Not Be Worth as Much as You Think, Most of the 2016 Olympics Final Five U.S. Gymnasts Have Moved on From the Sport, Latest Summer Olympic Games News and Updates. She competed on uneven bars and balance beam to help Auburn win the meet. With her biggest cheerleader in the crowd, how could she not? She made her junior elite debut at the 2016 U.S. Classic.  In the all-around final, Lee finished in eighth place after an uncharacteristic fall from the uneven bars.  There, she won the gold medal in the all-around and helped the U.S. win the gold medal in the team final. John has used a manual wheelchair since the incident and often relies on his "driver," aka Suni's brotherLucky, to get around, according toToday. Even though we cant go and support her in-person, Im glad that we could share with the world, her dad told CBS Minnesota following her incredible showing. Suni has considered pulling out of the competition. He and Yeev met and began dating when the athlete was just two years old. It so happened that in August 2019, just a couple of days before Suni'sfirst major senior elite competition i.e. This qualified her to compete at the upcoming Olympic Trials. November 16, 2021. The father of six had supported Lee's gymnastics from the beginning - helping her perform tricks around the house, sometimes to the frustration of .