U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Suni Lee Says She Was Target Of Racist Attack
TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 01: Bronze Medalist Sunisa Lee of Team United States poses with her medal on the podium during the Women's Uneven Bars Final medal ceremony on day nine of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on August 01, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Sunisa Lee — Olympic gold medalist and the first Hmong American to make the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team — says that she was the victim of an anti-Asian attack last month. 

Lee told “PopSugar” that after a night out with friends — all of Asian descent — in Los Angeles, and while waiting for an Uber, a car sped by with its occupants yelling at the group to “go back where you came from” and also shouted a racist comment. Lee said her arm was hit by pepper spray by one of the occupants of the vehicle. 

“I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off,” she said in the interview. “I didn’t do anything to them, and having the reputation, it’s so hard because I didn’t want to do anything that could get me into trouble. I just let it happen.”

Lee’s “reputation” has certainly increased since the Tokyo Olympics, where she stole the show for the Americans after Simone Biles withdrew from competition. 

Biles withdrew from the women’s all-around event citing struggles with her mental health. She was scheduled to compete in the individual all-around and was favored to win, but was forced to withdraw, opening the door for Lee. 

Lee put on a spectacular performance, becoming the fifth-straight American woman to take home the gold in the all-around competition, with Brazilian gymnast Rebeca Andrade grabbing silver and Angelina Melnikova of the Russian Olympic Committee taking home the bronze.  

“Nobody expected me to win the gold medal, so when I did, my life turned overnight,” Lee says.

Her story quickly took the country by storm, with the challenges of her childhood coming to the forefront after taking home gold.

In 2019, her father fell from a ladder while trimming a tree, paralyzing him from the chest down. In March 2020, the Olympics were postponed, putting Lee’s dreams on hold.

“To have that taken away from us without having any control is very hard,” Lee said. “I went through a depressed phase, and it was hard to get out of.”

In June 2020 — three months after her gym was shut down due to the pandemic — Lee returned to the gym, only to break her foot. That same summer, tragedy struck as her aunt and uncle died of COVID less than two weeks apart.

Since the Olympics, Lee has been a participant on “Dancing With the Stars,” and has admitted to feeling overwhelmed at times as she attempts to manage her mental health.

“When I shared that I was feeling down, so many people reached out and either sent positive messages of encouragement or told me they were feeling similarly and not to feel alone,” she says. “It’s OK to feel down sometimes, but what I’ve realized is that it’s important to express your feelings and ask for help. In the past, I might have pushed on and not acknowledged the state of my mental health. But there’s so much power in owning your feelings. It’s not weakness, it’s actually taking control.”

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Suni Lee Says She Was Target Of Racist Attack