The Midwest Is Home to Olympic All-Around Gold Medal Gymnast [PHOTOS]
When Americans thought about the women's gymnastics competition at the Tokyo Olympic games, it was always Simone Biles that came to mind first. As a matter of fact, if you'd have asked most Americans the name of another team member, you might have struggled to get an answer. Early today, an 18-year-old from the Midwest made sure we'd never forget her. See the incredible photos from the competition and her watch party back home below.
Suni Lee hails from Oakdale, Minnesota, a suburb of the Twin Cities, and just over four hours from Cedar Rapids. The all-around competition was certainly up for grabs after Biles, who won the all-around gold in 2016, pulled herself from the competition earlier this week. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune said, "Suni Lee could be the one to take it." Was she ever.
The race to the gold medal stand was extremely tight in the competition early Thursday morning (here in the U.S.). As she went into the final event, the floor exercise, Lee led Rebeca Andrade of Brazil by just one-tenth of a point. ESPN reports that the floor exercise isn't typically Lee's best event, but Andrade usually excels there. Not today. Andrade stepped out twice during her routine, with the pressure on after a clean routine by Lee. That was the clincher for an American gold medal.
Lee's story is an amazing one. She's the first Hmong American to compete for the United States in the Olympics. When she was a child, NBC News says her father John built a balance beam for her because they couldn't afford to buy one. He's been paralyzed from the chest down since 2019 when he fell from a ladder. Today, as always, he was Suni's biggest cheerleader.
- 2020 Tokyo Games: Sunisa Lee
- 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games: Simone Biles
- 2012 London Games: Gabby Douglas
- 2008 Beijing Games: Nastia Liukin
- 2004 Athens Games: Carly Patterson
- 1984 Los Angeles Games: Mary Lou Retton
See photos from today's competition and her watch party back home in Minnesota below.