During the Tokyo Summer Olympics, gymnast Suni Lee won a gold medal in the individual all-around finals and made history as the first Hmong American to compete in the Olympics. In the months following the Games, she began studying at Auburn University and has become a standout participant of this season of Dancing with the stars. In an interview with PopSugar, she said the fact that she became a household name didn’t stop her from undergoing a recent anti-Asian attack.
Lee told the outlet that while on a night out with a group of friends, who are also Asian descent, they were waiting for a rideshare car recently when a group drove by and started yelling racist remarks at them. She added that one of the passengers tried to pepper spray her and ended up hitting her arm.
“I was so angry, but there was nothing I could do or control because they ran away,” she said. “I didn’t do anything to them, and with the reputation it’s so hard because I didn’t want to do anything that could get me in trouble. I just let it happen.”
Since the beginning of 2020, media channels documented what The New York Times described as an “emerging wave of anti-Asian bias across the country”, including incidents of hostile language and even violence. According to PopSugar, the first person to call Lee after experiencing the attack was her longtime gymnastics coach jess records, who also accompanied her to the Olympics in July.
Lee also said she was attracted to DWTS because it gave her the chance to develop a fun set of skills outside of her sport. “I was doing gymnastics for about 12 years and I feel like I’ve never had time to just do something fun,” she said. “I really wanted to try and find myself in this show because I feel like everything has been taken from me in gymnastics.” To participate in the show, she moved to Los Angeles, but apparently plans to return to Auburn University so she can join their gymnastics team next season.
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