Suni Lee is the face of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Profile Picture: Josh Powell

July 30th, 2021

We have already seen shocks, surprises, and incredible feats of athleticism at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

But what has been the most notable accomplishment? Who is the face of these Games? American gymnast Suni Lee is well deserving.

Coverage of Team USA’s gymnastic team typically revolves around Simone Biles. The 24-year-old is America’s most decorated gymnast and arguably the most dominant gymnast of all time. She has a record-breaking 19 world gold medals and won five at the 2016 Olympics. Biles is normally the star of the show.

However, she has suffered mental pressure on Tokyo, combined with a bout of "the twisties" — a psychological phenomenon where gymnasts lose air awareness during twists — which caused her to withdraw from the individual all-around competition.

Step forward Suni Lee.

Part of the team that won gold at the 2019 World Championships, Lee finished ninth in the individual all-around event there. Entering the Tokyo Games, she was a two-time silver medalist at the U.S. National Championships and finished second at the Olympic Trials. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to guess who kept finishing ahead of her.

When Biles withdrew, Lee stepped up for Team USA, a huge display of strength from an athlete who only turned 18 in March.

Lee put in a huge performance to win gold, by just 0.135 points, ahead of Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade, and Angelina Melnikova picked up bronze for the Russian Olympic Committee. Lee posted a score of 15.3 on the uneven bars, the best of any athlete, and followed up with a 14.6 on the vault, a 13.83 on the balance beam, and a 13.7 for her performance on the floor.

It was a scintillating all-round display, and the scenes of her family celebrating are brilliant.

I lose my balance getting out of bed sometimes, so to see an athlete tackle gymnastics with so much precision, style, and strength is incredible.

And Lee’s achievement goes beyond the fact she is now an Olympic Gold medalist at just 18. She is the first individual all-around champion of Asian descent and the first Hmong-American Olympic champion in any sport. Lee is truly an inspiration.

The Governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, declared Friday July 30 to be "Sunisa Lee Day," which goes to show the impact she had back home. Lee is rightly going to be one of Team USA’s biggest stars at the Games.