Gymnastics queen Suni Lee revealed that she was recently attacked with pepper spray and called racial slurs while on a night out with friends. This came after her fantastic performance in the Tokyo Olympics, where she brought home three medals for Team USA.
Since she was seven years old, Lee has done gymnastics competitively and made history as the first Hmong American to participate in the Olympic Games and win a gold medal.
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The 18-year-old went up as the American representative after Simone Biles stepped out to handle issues about her mental health. Her win awarded her an opportunity to be on “Dancing With The Stars” and secured future opportunities for the gymnast.
Lee recently participated in DWTS, and according to Parade, she performed with a stomach virus. She initially backed out of the performance, but the gold medalist went on stage with encouragement from her partner and the producer.
Lee’s Pepper Spray Incident
Lee has achieved enormous feats for someone her age. The 18-year-old won gold, silver, and bronze medals for her participation in the 2020 Olympics after gymnast Biles stepped down. The win led to her appearing on DWTS, and the rest is history.
In a recent interview with Popsugar, the gold medalist revealed that she was recently a victim of a racism-fueled attack. Lee told the magazine that she had a night out with some of her Asian friends, and while trying to get a cab, the group was verbally attacked.
The people in the car made anti-Asian comments like “Ching Chong” and told the group to “go back to where they came from.” One even went as far as pepper spraying Lee on her arm before driving off.
“I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off,” she recalled. “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 Had A Hard Time On ‘DWTS’
Lee showed her strength and professionalism during her performance on “DWTS.” Before her performance, the gold medalist was ill with a stomach virus. After the show, Sasha Farber told reporters that it was probably the hardest week for him on the show in a while.
“It was so stressful. The poor girl started to feel really sick on Tuesday, and then it got worse and worse. We had to miss rehearsals.”
The gymnast performed her solo dance and the Relay Dance that night. According to Parade, she rushed off stage after dancing the Paso Doble’s cover of “We Will Rock You.” Farber revealed that the gymnast almost gave up right before the dance started but returned after words of encouragement.
“I was like, ‘Suni, you’ve got this. Come on. This is game time.’ She turned around, and she’s like, ‘Um hm, um hm,’ holding it in, and she held it in for a minute 35 seconds and then the second the dance was over, she ran to a trash can.”
Besides the stomach issue, Lee revealed that she was going through some emotional issues. This might be because of the pressure of her performance on the show or the racist attack she suffered a while back.
Simone Biles Suffered Mental Health Issues
Most people see athletes as solid and formidable individuals who don’t face the same issues ordinary people do, but this is far from the truth. Biles recently went through several issues with her mental health. The gymnast was Lee’s teammate in the US gymnastics team, and her problems led her to pull out of the 2020 Olympics.
Today revealed that Biles’ mental health issues triggered a condition called “the twisties.” The condition made her dizzy while on air during twists and turns. Despite her love for the sport, the gymnast has not properly participated because of the condition.
Lee and Biles are not the only athletes who have gone through mental health issues. Michael Phelps spoke about battling depression, and he joined an online therapy company to emphasize the importance of treatment. These athletes are making moves to highlight the importance of mental health on athletes.
“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,” Lee said. “… There’s so much power in owning your feelings. It’s not weakness; it’s actually taking control.”
Lee’s 2020 Olympics Win
In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Lee represented team USA. The 18-year-old came back with a gold medal for Women’s All-Around, a silver for the Team All-Round, and a bronze for the Uneven Metal Bars.
Lee told Coveteur, “I’m proud of myself for being able to go through the Olympics,” Lee reflected, “because that was such a hard time when Simone pulled out, plus Covid, and we couldn’t do anything but go from our room to the arena and come back. That was the most challenging thing.”
In addition to being the first Hmong American to compete, Lee is the first Asian American to win a gymnastics gold. “My whole goal is just to change the standard and exception for Hmong people,” the gymnast said,
“because I feel like every Hmong woman or man has an expectation that’s put on them, girls especially. Girls usually don’t play sports. They cook, clean, take care of the kids. A lot of people get married at 18, and I’m doing the complete opposite.”