Hmong American Gymnast Suni Lee Places Top Two in US Gymnastics Championship
An 18-year-old gymnast struggling to become the first Hmong American to put the Olympic gymnastics team in second place behind four-time gold medalist Simone Biles.
The championships: Suni Lee won silver in the all-around for the second time in a row and secured second place at the US gymnastics championships at the weekend.
Lee is proud of her placement and says it "felt very good to be in the top two," according to the Star Tribune. The young gymnast finished with a total of 114,950 points, 4.7 points behind Biles.
The championship placement secured her the place as a top contender for the Olympic tests. She was one of a group of 18 gymnasts who qualified for the exams June 24-27 in St. Louis. The US is sending a team of four women and two individual qualifiers to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Lee caught the attention of Tom Forster, a high-performance coordinator for women in the US, after a major finish against Jordan Chiles.
Forster said she had "not put together a really solid all-rounder at this point" due to her injuries, but it seems like she will be "right back where she was in 2019".
Gymnastics History: Lee started gymnastics in 2009 because it was "fun" and she was "just doing flips," according to USA Gymnastics.
Lee hopes to become the first Hmong American Olympics gymnast. Her father told Elle Magazine that this would be "the greatest achievement of any Hmong in the United States of all time" and that "it will go down in history."
At the 2019 US Championships, Lee took silver in the all-round competition and nailed "one of the toughest bar routines in the world". She is the only other woman besides Biles to have won a gold medal at the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
In the US World Cup selection camp, she was four tenths of a point away from beating Biles, as well as no one has outdone her in years.
Lee's gym was closed for three months due to the pandemic and when she returned in June 2020 she broke her foot. She said the extra year "strengthened her performance on the uneven bars" and "made her more consistent overall".
Selected image via Gymnatea (left), @sunisalee_ (right)
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