'I didn't do anything to them'
Olympic gymnast Suni Lee says she was pepper sprayed during a racist attack
Olympic gymnast Suni Lee has revealed she was recently the victim of a racist attack.
The 18-year old gymnast recounted the incident while speaking with Pop Sugar, explaining it happened just one week before the interview. Lee said she and some friends, all of whom are of Asian descent, were waiting for an Uber after a night out when a group sped by in a car and yelled racist slurs, including "ching chong," telling them to "go back to where they came from." Lee also said a passenger sprayed her arm with pepper spray.
"I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off," Lee said. "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 competed at the Tokyo Olympics in July and made history by becoming the first Hmong American Olympic gymnast, winning gold in the women's all-around competition after Simone Biles' withdrawl. She described to Pop Sugar how "nobody expected me to win the gold medal, so when I did, my life turned overnight," and even now, she said it's "crazy" to think about the fact that she's a Olympic gold medalist. "I still have a hard time letting it sink in," Lee noted.
Lee also opened up to Pop Sugar about sharing on Instagram that her mental health could be better, prompting many people to reach out to her.
"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. "In the past, I might have pushed on and not acknowledged the state of my mental health. But there's so much power in owning your feelings. It's not weakness, it's actually taking control."