Sunisa “Suni” Lee, the world’s gymnastic new sensation, marked her gold medals in both individual and team performance at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Her achievements have listed her name in the history of American athletes as the first Hmong American gymnast to earn gold medals in the Olympics.
A Proud Moment for Hmong People in the U.S
Suni was born in a family of Hmong parents who refuge from Laos after devastating wars back there. Her parents settled in Twin Cities where there is the largest Hmong population in the U.S. The first Hmong immigrants arrived in Minnesota in 1975; the population of Hmong people in the metro area St Paul, Minneapolis is near 70,000. Suni had spent her life and gymnastic training days with Jess Graba for more than ten years. (Niesen, 2021)
Lee’s victory has brought joy and pride to herself, her family, and the whole both Hmong and Asian community. In a country where the Asian community had suffered racial violence before, her triumph has rehabilitated the Asian community’s image and led to its transformation as an equal community.
While Simone Biles is away for her mental health treatment, Lee is the next name to represent U.S women’s gymnastics. Her journey of gymnastics career is sure to continue with the decision of enrolling Auburn University, the Auburn Tigers, which specializes in gymnastics programs.
Sudden Tragic before Her En route to the Olympics…
The tragedy happened to Lee during the pandemic. Her dad, John Lee, met with an accident and fell from a ladder, and was later diagnosed with spinal cord injury. Now, he’s always in his wheelchair as he cannot walk on his own. Lee also lost her aunt and uncle, who also raised her while her parents were away, from Covid-19 suffering. Things don’t stop here yet, as she injured her ankle and rested for three months during the pandemic soared.
But She is Unstoppable
There’s no such pain as it affects you and those around you. Lee had been distracted between her career and family tragedies. She once thought of giving up. But thankfully, there are her coaches, siblings, friends out there and always root for her. With months of closing the gym, Lee has strengthened her skills and performance, and her coach Graba motivates, “If you were 100 percent ready for the 2020 Olympics, then you’re spending the year going. Let’s just not get injured. Let’s just not make any mistakes.” (Feller & Minutaglio, 2021)
Her patience, passion, her people’s support back there, everything has made an incredible, young-spirited Suni Lee today. Her work has inspired many young gymnasts to join the world of only him/herself shining with the beam. Walking, flipping, rotating, and flexing would be more flavourful with your own touches.
If you were wondering more, here are some Little Facts of the Hmong Ethnicity
The Hmong people don’t have their own country. For thousands of years, the Hmong lived in southwestern China. Then, many Hmong people migrated to Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and other relative countries.
The Pronunciation of ‘Hmong’
In English, the letter ‘h’ is silent. Therefore, with Hmong, they just speak it as “mong.”
Why the Hmong end up in Minnesota?
As mentioned above, Suni Lee was a Minnesota native where consists of the largest population of Hmong people in the U.S. There are some reasons to explain. When the first Hmong people came to the United States, the State Department gave the resettlement contract to volunteer agencies, such as Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Service, and Church World Service. Also, Hmong refugees were settled in places where jobs are available. Then, more and more Hmong people encourage their relatives and friends to move here as well.
The Difference Between White Hmong and Green Hmong?
The Hmong language has two dialects: white and green like British English and American English. Moreover, the color white and green refers to the colors and patterns of each group’s traditional clothing. But now, that discrimination has been combined into one.
The Diverse Cuisine.
The Hmong cuisine is a combination of many Asian countries and is highlighted with various spices and herbs. Meanwhile, soups and rice are the staple of the Hmong. (Yang, 2015)
Brenda Song is also Hmong originated.
You may remember her as London Tipton in “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody”. She was born of a Hmong father and a Thai American mother.