After Suni Lee won her first-ever gold medal in the women’s gymnastics all-around final, her dad had an emotional message not only for his daughter but for her teammate Simone Biles as well.
With a 14.600 on vault, a 15.300 on uneven bars, a 13.833 on beam and a 13.700 on floor, Lee led all competitors Thursday with a 57.433 overall and won her first-ever gold medal.
Her victory came after Biles made a surprising early exit from the women’s team final earlier in the week, coming up short in her first vault then withdrawing from the competition to focus on her mental health, later saying she got “lost in the air.”
Lee, who has completed the most difficult uneven bars routine in the world, went big on the bars in the team competition and added a high-scoring balance beam set to propel Team USA to the podium, winning a silver medal.
“We did it for Simone,” Lee said after the event.
Biles later withdrew from the individual all-around final and said she would reassess her ability to compete each day.
Lee then quickly became the biggest medal contender for the U.S. in the all-around – and she delivered in the best way, filling a void many worried would be unfillable.
Her victory secures an American winning streak for yet another Olympics, marking the fifth straight Olympic Games an American woman has been crowned queen of the all-around.
Calling into “TODAY,” Lee’s father John Lee was overcome with emotion.
“There’s no words to express this right now,” he said. “My wife, everybody, the whole community’s here and they were all holding their breath.”
John Lee said he didn’t think his daughter had “any words that can express it either” and added that he could see she was crying.
“I’m gonna tell her that I’m super proud of her,” John Lee said. “I want to tell her too that no matter what, I’ll support her and I want to tell Simone that she truly is the GOAT because she let my baby girl bring me a gold medal.”
Lee, who was the youngest gymnast on her team in Tokyo, has already secured her spot in history as the first Hmong-American to compete for Team USA. And her road here was anything but easy.
In 2019, her father was in an accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. In 2020, she lost an aunt and uncle to COVID-19.
Now, Lee has joined an elite group of gymnasts as an all-around gold medalists, a list that includes big names like Biles, Gabby Douglas, Nastia Liukin and Carly Patterson.