Suni Lee joins exclusive club of American Olympic All-Around champions

Posted at 8:59 AM, Jul 29, 2021

Standing on top of the podium after the women's artistic gymnastics all-around final, Suni Lee hung her first individual Olympic gold medal around her neck and took a deep breath. Tears welled in her eyes as the United States national anthem played, and her teammates all rose to their feet in the stands. 

The 18-year-old's victory marks the fifth consecutive time an American woman has won the title of Olympic all-around champion and the sixth time in history. Lee joins a club that includes Mary Lou RettonCarly PattersonNastia LiukinGabby Douglas and Simone Biles. Biles withdrew from the competition to focus on her mental health and Lee stepped up to carry on the winning tradition. She is the first Hmong American to ever compete in the Olympics and the first to win gold. 

Heading into the final rotation, Lee had a narrow lead over Brazil's Rebeca Andrade. Lee scored a massive 15.300 on the uneven bars but had a few bobbles on balance beam, and it appeared Andrade might slide into the top spot with her powerful floor routine. The Brazilian outscored Lee on the event in the qualification round and needed a 13.802 to win gold, but Andrade went out of bounds on two tumbling passes and received a 13.666. Lee's final total of 57.433 was just .135 greater than Andrade's 57.298. 

Andrade's silver is the first medal in women's artistic gymnastics for Brazil. Russian Angelina Melnikova claimed the bronze with a 57.199. It is her second Olympic medal after she lead the ROC team to a gold earlier this week. Jade Carey, who replaced Biles in the final, finished in eighth after capping off her night with an impressive performance on floor.