With a gymnastics gold medal under her belt, Sunisa “Suni” Lee’s name is already in the history books. But the 18-year-old has broken another barrier, becoming the first Asian American woman to win gold in the Olympics’ all-around competition.
After Simone Biles departed the competition Tuesday, fans turned to Lee. The highly anticipated all-around Thursday was close from the start, with Lee edging out Brazil's Rebeca Andrade in the third rotation and leading by only one-tenth of a point. The final round sealed Lee’s victory with 57.433 points, 0.135 more than Andrade, who won silver.
Lee, now the fifth consecutive U.S. gymnast to take gold in the all-around, became a social media favorite after a "TODAY" interview with the gymnast’s father John Lee, who said, “She goes to the gym and she practices but we don't have a beam here. So I couldn't afford a real beam, so I built her one." The beam is still in the family’s backyard.
Lee’s family gathered to watch her victory live from home and their reactions went viral. After her win, Lee spoke about how the support of her coach, family and especially her father propelled her.
"This has been our dream forever," she told Hoda Kotb after her win. "I wish he was here. He always told me if I win the gold medal, he would come out on the ground and do a backflip. It's sad that he can't be here, but this is our dream and this our medal.
"We both worked for this. He sacrificed everything to put me in gymnastics. Both my parents really have. This is my family's medal, my medal. My coach's medal. He doesn't get a medal, so I'm dedicating it to all of them."
Twitter exploded with Lee’s name Thursday afternoon, with fans saying it was a moment they had been waiting for and that it made them proud.
CORRECTION (July 29, 2021, 1.35 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the name of a Brazilian gymnast. She is Rebeca Andrade, not Rebecca Andande.