Cover Sunisa Lee of Team United States reacts after competing on uneven bars during the Women's All-Around Final on day six of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Sunisa "Suni" Lee makes history as the first Hmong American Olympic gymnast—and brings home a gold medal, extending the US' 17-year winning streak

US gymnast, Suni "Sunisa" Lee claimed the gold medal in the all-around gymnastics competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Lee makes history as the first Hmong American to compete in the Olympics and now tops that up by bringing home the gold medal.

"This is such a surreal moment. I just feel like I could have never been here ever. It doesn't even feel like real life," says the 18-year-old newly crowned champion.

With Lee's win, she continues the US' 17-year winning streak in gymnastics, a title that hung in balance after previous defending champion, Simone Biles withdrew from the competition. But the Minnesota native delivered an astonishing performance, showcased her spectacular routine in the uneven bars—one of the most difficult events in women's gymnastics.

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Lee earned a spot in the all-around event after she placed third in the qualifying events. When Biles withdraw from the competition, Lee rose to the challenge and eventually bagged the coveted medal.

But her own journey to gold hasn't been easy. She's been faced with injuries, lost an aunt and an uncle to Covid-19 and had to deal with a tragic accident—two days before the 2019 National Championships—that left her father paralysed. This was especially difficult since her father had always supported her, even building a balance beam in the backyard for her to practice on since the family had limited means. Lee has always dreamed of making history—as the first Hmong Olympian and she did just that and even more.

"It would be the greatest accomplishment of any Hmong person in the US ever,” Lee's dad, John Lee previously said to Elle. The reaction from her family made rounds in social media as they erupted with joy, pumped their fists into the air and celebrated Lee's win. “It will go down in history,” her dad added. And down in history books, she goes.

Lee will be back in action for the individual event finals, where she's already expected to nail the uneven bars—a routine that she's best known for.

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