Suni Lee says she was pepper-sprayed in racist attack

img ]

American gymnast Suni Lee, an Olympic gold medal winner, says she was pepper-sprayed in a racist incident while in Los Angeles for her stint on “Dancing with the Stars.” CNN’s Brynn Gingras reports.

Auburn gymnast Suni Lee’s perfect performances send her to ‘Dancing with the Stars’ semifinals

img ]

Auburn gymnast Suni Lee and her partner Sasha Farber dance earned a perfect score Monday and got the two bonus points in the second round. The performance sent the duo to the semifinals next week.

Lee was making her 10th appearance on the show. This week’s episode was “Janet Jackson Night.” Jackson made an appearance over Zoom at the start of the show.

The duo’s Samba received all 10s from the judges. It was Lee’s first perfect score and the first 10s of the season. The dance was to Janet Jackson’s “All for You.” The score placed them in a tie for first place before the second round of dances.

In a dance-off, Lee and Farber were up against country music artist Jimmie Allen and partner Emma Slater. Lee and Farber danced a salsa to the Latin version of “Made for Now” by Jackson. The battle was judged by Bruno Tonioli.

Lee and Farber bounced back from last week’s 33 out of 40 when Lee fought through illness to perform her two dances.

Last Week:Auburn Olympic gymnast Suni Lee battles sickness to advance on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Next week’s semifinals will air Monday night on ABC at 7 p.m. CT.

Lee won the individual all-around gold medal in gymnastics at the Tokyo 2021 Summer Olympic Games in July. She is a freshman at Auburn taking online classes from Los Angeles while participating in the show.

Her first season as an Auburn gymnast begins in January 2022, when she’ll be competing for Jeff Graba, the twin brother of her personal coach in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Fans can vote for Lee by texting SUNI to 21523.

Bennett Durando contributed to this report.

US Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee pepper sprayed in racist attack

img ]

US Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee pepper sprayed in racist attack

US Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee has said she was the victim of a racist attack when she was pepper sprayed while waiting for an Uber with friends.

US Gold Medalist Suni Lee Says She Was Pepper Sprayed In Racist Attack Weeks After Tokyo Games

img ]

Thursday, November 11th 2021, 3:35 pm

By: CBS Sports

Gymnast Suni Lee collected three medals, including gold in the all-around event, as the first Hmong American to participate in the Olympics this summer in Tokyo. Weeks after her trailblazing performance, Lee was a target in a racist attack, she revealed this week.

A group traveling by car shouted racist slurs such as “ching chong” toward Lee and her friends, all of whom were of Asian descent, as they waited for an Uber ride. Lee said the group told them to “go back to where they came from,” and one pepper sprayed the Olympian’s arm before driving off.

“I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off,” Lee, 18, told PopSugar. “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’s experience isn’t new among U.S. Olympians of Asian descent. A man yelled racial slurs and obscenities at karate fighter Sakura Kokumai, who is Japanese American, in a Southern California park this April. Orange County police arrested the man – 25-year-old Michael Vivona – for that incident, and he was apprehended again later that month for punching an elderly Korean couple.

“I was angry, frustrated, confused, scared, but I was also heartbroken to see and experience how people could be so cold,” Kokumai wrote in an Instagram post containing video of the man’s attack. “Please take care of each other. Please look out for one another.”

Lee, who claimed silver in the team event and bronze in the uneven bars during the Tokyo Olympics, is now competing on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” She’ll return to gymnastics at the college level as a freshman for Auburn in 2022.

The Tigers went 1-7 a season ago, but Lee’s addition has Auburn fans excited for a turnaround. Suni told PopSugar Auburn Arena has already sold all its gymnastics tickets for the 2022 season.

“All eyes are going to be on not only me,” Suni said, “but my whole college team.”

Suni Lee says she was pepper sprayed in racist attack: ‘I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do’

img ]

Gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee has revealed in an interview that she and several friends were recently the target of an anti-Asian attack.

In an interview with PopSugar published on Wednesday, the 18-year-old Lee described what happened to her and her friends (who are all women of Asian descent) just a week before the interview took place. While they were waiting for an Uber during a night out, a car pulled up to them and started yelling Asian slurs out the window. Lee said she got pepper sprayed on the arm as the car sped away.

“I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off,” Lee told PopSugar. “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 hails from St. Paul, Minnesota, and grew up as part of a very close community of Hmong Americans. She told PopSugar that she still has a tough time understanding vicious and racist attacks like the one she encountered. However, she knows that speaking up about it is important, even if it makes her uncomfortable.

The anti-Asian hate that Lee encountered is just one example of thousands of incidents that have happened in the U.S. over the last 20 months. Racially motivated attacks against the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have surged since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Stop AAPI Hate, there were over 9,000 racially motivated attacks on members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities between March 2020 and June 2021. Over 4,500 of those incidents occurred in the first six months of 2021. Sixty four percent of the reported incidents were verbal attacks like the one Lee endured, and 63 percent of all the incidents were reported by women.

Suni Lee and a group of friends were recently the target of an anti-Asian attack. (Photo by: Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Lee discusses mental health

Story continues

Lee, who has taken a temporary detour from her freshman studies at Auburn to compete on “Dancing with the Stars,” also discussed her mental health during the interview. Training all alone during the pandemic was difficult for her, since she typically thrives in a team environment. Just days before the Olympic Trials, she was thinking about quitting.

She didn’t quit, and we all know what happened — numerous standout performances at the Olympics helped the U.S. women’s gymnastics team win a silver in the team all-around, and earned Lee a gold in the individual all-around and bronze on the uneven bars.

Since then, Lee has been learning how to handle the pressure and stardom that come from Olympic success. She’s shy and soft-spoken, and often has to be around people when she’d rather be alone. Between school, “Dancing with the Stars” practice, and media responsibilities, she’s been too busy to tend to her mental health. When she posted about that on Instagram, the response from her followers helped her find her footing.