'I didn't think I would ever be here,' says Sunisa Lee after winning 'surreal' all-around gymnastics gold at the Tokyo Olympics

'I didn't think I would ever be here,' says Sunisa Lee after winning 'surreal' all-around gymnastics gold at the Tokyo Olympics

Posted: Jul 30, 2021 1:11 AM
Updated: Jul 30, 2021 1:11 AM

After a turbulent few years, Sunisa Lee can now call herself an Olympic gold medalist.

The American gymnast won the women's all-around title in Tokyo on Thursday ahead of Brazil's Rebeca Andrade in second and the Russian Olympic Committee's Angelina Melnikova in third.

Lee, who extends the USA's run of Olympic gold medals in the event to five, scored 57.433 as teammate and 2016 all-around champion Simone Biles watched on from the stands.

Given what Lee has experienced over the past two years, no wonder the word she twice landed on to describe her victory was "surreal."

In 2019, she won gold on uneven bars at the US Championships shortly after her father had fallen off a ladder and become paralyzed from the chest down, while last year she lost her aunt and uncle to Covid-19.

Lee, who turned 18 in March, has also overcome a spate of injuries, including a broken bone in her foot and an Achilles tendon injury last year.

"The past two years have been absolutely crazy with Covid and my family and everything else," Lee told reporters at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre.

"This medal definitely means a lot to me because there was a point in time when I wanted to quit and I just didn't think I would ever be here, including injuries and stuff.

"So there are a lot of emotions, but I'm definitely super proud of myself for sticking with it and believing in myself."

Much of the build-up to the final had been dominated by Biles' withdrawal from the event to protect her mental health. Biles, a four-time Olympic gold medalist, had pulled out of the team competition earlier this week after landing awkwardly on her vault.

Alongside her teammates Grace McCallum, Jordan Chiles and MyKayla Skinner, Biles was there cheering and clapping Lee and Team USA's Jade Carey from the stands.

The gold medal adds to the silver Lee won with Team USA in the team competition on Tuesday, and her victory means the US draws level with the Soviet Union with a record six wins in the women's all-around.

Lee started the evening with a score of 14.600 on vault before moving into the medal positions with 15.300 on uneven bars.

Her 13.833 on balance beam handed her the lead over Andrade, and the Brazilian then stepped out twice on her floor routine to end her hopes of a gold.

"I was starting to put a little bit too much pressure on myself," said Lee. "Knowing that Simone was gone, I feel like people kind of put that pressure on me that I had to come back with a medal.

"I tried not to think about ... (and) just focus on myself and do what I normally do because that's when I compete the best."

Andrade, meanwhile, has her own reasons to be proud as she becomes the first woman from Brazil to win an Olympic gymnastics medal.

She qualified second for the event -- behind Biles and ahead of Lee -- and scored highly on vault and bars in the final. But it was Lee who took the lead on the third rotation.

"I did my best and I'm very proud of the outcome," said Andrade. "I worked hard, I worked with my psychologist to achieve these objectives ... I don't mind if it's gold, silver, or bronze, or even if I didn't have any medal. I think I had a great performance and I'm very thankful for that."

For Melnikova, her bronze medal adds to the gold she won with the ROC earlier this week.

"I am extremely happy. It has been a hard road to get here. All my dreams came true," she said. "I basically worked for it five years and I didn't miss any major competition in all those five years."

Following the team and all-around events, women's artisitc gymnastic competitions resume in Tokyo on Sunday with the vault and uneven bars events.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Terre Haute
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 66°
Robinson
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 66°
Indianapolis
Mostly Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 61°
Rockville
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 66°
Casey
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 66°
Brazil
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 66°
Marshall
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 66°
Sunny and dry, but cool and breezy!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1605320

Reported Deaths: 27132
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook61354910964
DuPage1039171357
Will873121089
Lake771121060
Kane65888850
Winnebago39007544
Madison38143576
St. Clair35003569
McHenry33032316
Peoria25972362
Champaign25862182
Sangamon24588271
McLean21879207
Tazewell19736326
Rock Island17806344
Kankakee16784234
Kendall15459106
LaSalle14496275
Macon14478240
Vermilion13234189
Adams12695148
DeKalb11667128
Williamson11419157
Whiteside7897176
Jackson769188
Boone760082
Coles7341112
Ogle713486
Grundy701281
Franklin686899
Clinton681498
Knox6651164
Marion6547138
Macoupin646399
Henry620474
Jefferson6060132
Effingham604382
Livingston571295
Woodford554291
Stephenson546289
Randolph529297
Monroe508199
Christian491780
Fulton487970
Morgan487296
Logan477474
Montgomery467476
Lee458156
Bureau427188
Perry415171
Saline409263
Fayette398956
Iroquois394673
McDonough354956
Jersey322253
Shelby311843
Douglas306636
Crawford304130
Lawrence301131
Union296747
Wayne274057
White265930
Richland262054
Hancock256334
Pike255956
Cass250928
Clark250738
Bond244024
Clay240047
Ford235256
Edgar234744
Carroll225437
Warren224960
Johnson213524
Moultrie211831
Jo Daviess206126
Washington206127
Wabash200915
Greene200739
Mason199351
Massac198144
De Witt195530
Piatt190814
Mercer190634
Cumberland178325
Menard158612
Jasper152418
Marshall134721
Hamilton128821
Brown10178
Pulaski98311
Schuyler9688
Edwards96315
Stark76827
Gallatin7435
Scott6975
Alexander67611
Henderson65114
Calhoun6442
Hardin56013
Putnam5444
Pope4815
Unassigned1882432
Out of IL40

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 941120

Reported Deaths: 15315
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1282511983
Lake633041097
Allen53609758
Hamilton43827447
St. Joseph41906590
Elkhart33545490
Vanderburgh30383448
Tippecanoe26820249
Johnson23609417
Hendricks22250341
Porter21737346
Clark17409229
Madison17366384
Vigo16108281
Monroe14466191
LaPorte14311239
Delaware14070221
Howard13865272
Kosciusko11418135
Hancock10841165
Warrick10674177
Bartholomew10542168
Floyd10430205
Wayne9959226
Grant9130204
Morgan8865160
Boone8389111
Dubois7710123
Dearborn762289
Henry7608130
Noble7413101
Marshall7362128
Cass7176117
Lawrence6957153
Shelby6584111
Jackson656785
Gibson6156107
Harrison603786
Huntington600195
Montgomery5805105
DeKalb574291
Knox5494104
Miami542488
Putnam536768
Clinton533665
Whitley524953
Steuben497268
Wabash483592
Jasper479160
Jefferson470092
Ripley454277
Adams444068
Daviess4169108
Scott405865
White391857
Clay390857
Greene388392
Decatur385296
Wells384983
Fayette374278
Posey359941
Jennings353156
Washington332047
LaGrange321375
Spencer317835
Fountain316555
Randolph312888
Sullivan307449
Owen283863
Starke280064
Fulton277553
Orange275859
Jay254837
Perry251652
Carroll243729
Franklin239338
Rush234130
Vermillion233250
Parke219820
Tipton209655
Pike207639
Blackford168334
Pulaski163551
Crawford146018
Newton144345
Benton142516
Brown135346
Martin128217
Switzerland125810
Warren114616
Union96911
Ohio79711
Unassigned0479