Wednesday, December 1

Sunisa Lee, the new star of gymnastics

Special Envoy to Tokyo



A star is born in Tokyo. Sunisa Lee has won this Thursday for United States the individual final of complete artistic gymnastics in the absence of his partner Simone Biles, withdrawn from this event due to the psychological pressure caused by the competition. Lee, de 18 years old and of the Hmong ethnic group who lives between Vietnam and Laos, has imposed on the Brazilian Rebeca Andrade already the russian Angelina Melnikova.

Lee, who was instrumental in the US winning silver in Tuesday’s team final after Biles left, has once again dazzled at the Ariake Pavilion. Although she started behind in the jump to the colt, where she was overtaken by Andrade, Melnikova and even her partner Jade Carey, she flew between the uneven bars to reach second position at the end of the second rotation.

Under the watchful eye of superstar Simone Biles, who was watching the final in the stands with a rueful face, Lee was undaunted by her more veteran rivals. Despite being the youngest of her team, she showed maturity and concentration that allowed her to take first position after the demanding test of the balance beam. Recovering from a somewhat hesitant entry, he held onto the bar with feline stability that allowed him to nail his exit with a perfect landing.

Just one exercise from the conclusion, the always aesthetic soil, the Russian Vladislava Urazova He had slipped into second place, ahead of Andrade and displacing his compatriot Melnikova. Squeezed all four in a narrow margin of hundredths, the final was to be decided on the floor, the most artistic of all routines and where the heart is as strong as the muscles that drive the gymnasts in their pirouettes and the bones that drive them. they sustain on their landings.

After Urazova’s passionate dance of a symphonic version of “Paint it black”, Melnikova’s turn came, with powerful electronic music that provisionally elevated her in the rankings to first place. With her hands clasped as if she were praying, the Russian awaited the result with tension while Biles, from the stands, made a pineapple with other members of her team.

And finally “Suni” Lee came out, as she is known in St. Paul, Minnesota, where many Hmong families like hers have settled. This Southeast Asian tribe has a tragic history because it was recruited by the CIA to fight the Vietcong in the Vietnam War. At the end of the war, American troops abandoned them to their fate and, unlike the Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees, many of them were not granted asylum and had to flee to Thailand to escape communist persecution. Honoring the resistance of this town, Lee did not give in on the ground and not even Andrade’s “gymnastics-samba” managed to snatch the gold from him.

After the traumatic withdrawal of Simone Biles, which until now had been the biggest news of these Games, the other big news has been, precisely, his relief. Waiting to know if Biles will continue in these Games, Lee has two more finals next week to become his successor: balance beam and asymmetric, where he is a favorite. After his triumph in the complete individual final, a star has already been born in Tokyo: “Suni” Lee.

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