See the gymnast’s community at home erupt into celebration as Lee becomes an Olympic champion
The footage captures hundreds of her friends and family on Thursday as they gathered to watch in Oakdale, Minnesota – painfully early at 5.30am – during a live stream of Ms Lee’s individual all-around competition.
The Minnesota community nervously watched the footage and erupted in celebration as 18-year-old Ms Lee became the first-ever Hmong American Olympian to win a gold medal.
It was a proud moment for the Hmong community. “I think a lot of people are sharing in this success because, again, 喜欢, this is such a historic moment for our community to have someone become an Olympian,” Seng Alex Vangtold, from Minnesota, told MPR.
Ms Lee beat Rebeca Andrade of Brazil to become the fifth American woman to claim the Olympic title, as teammates Grace McCallum, Jordan Chiles and MyKayla Skinner, plus defending champion Simone Biles, cheered her on from the sideline.
Team USA won the all-around event despite suffering a setback with the absence of their teammate and reigning champion Ms Biles, who withdrew from the competition due to mental health reasons.
Ms Lee won the all-around event by a narrow margin of 0.135, with an overall score of 57.433 over Ms Andrade’s 57.298.
There were nervy moments, Ms Lee nearly came off her beam while executing a wolf turn, but she managed to edge in front of Ms Andrade before carrying out her floor routine.
“I was starting to put a little bit too much pressure on myself, knowing that Simone was gone” said Ms Lee in a news conference after her win, but she got sound advice from her teammates to help her stay focused. “They told me to just go out there and not worry about anything else … just do what I normally do. That’s when I compete the best.”