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Olympic gymnast Suni Lee says she was victim of racist attack in LA, was sprayed with pepper spray

Olympic gymnast Suni Lee has revealed that she was a victim of a racist attack in Los Angeles – where a group of people in a car sprayed her with pepper spray and called her ‘ching chong.’

The gold medalist, who was the first Hmong American to ever participate in the Olympics, said she was ‘so mad’ after the unidentified group told her to ‘go back to where she came from.’

The 18-year-old told PopSugar during a recent interview that the horrifying moment happened when she was waiting for an Uber after a night out with friends, who were all also of Asian descent. 

Suddenly, a car drove past them and the passengers started yelled out racist slurs, including ‘ching chong’, before telling the gymnast and her friends to ‘go back to where they came from’. Lee said one of them even sprayed her arm with pepper spray.

‘I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off,’ she recalled. ‘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.’ 

 Olympic gymnast Suni Lee said she was a victim of a racist attack in Los Angeles, California – revealing that a group of guys sprayed her with pepper spray and called her ‘ching chong’

The gold medalist, who was the first Hmong American to ever participate in the Olympics, said the men also told her to 'go back to where she came from'

She said she was 'so mad' that she couldn't do anything about it, since they drove off so quickly

The gold medalist, who was the first Hmong American to ever participate in the Olympics, said the men also told her to ‘go back to where she came from’ 

The 18-year-old told PopSugar that the horrifying moment happened when she was waiting for an Uber after a night out with friends, who were also of Asian descent

The 18-year-old told PopSugar that the horrifying moment happened when she was waiting for an Uber after a night out with friends, who were also of Asian descent

Back in October, the FBI released data that showed a 76 percent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020.

According to the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics report, anti-Asian incidents significantly increased from 158 in 2019 to 279 in 2020, even though they only make up a small percentage of the 8,263 total hate crimes reported in 2020.

Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition of Asian American and Pacific Islander advocacy groups and scholars, previously claimed that anti-Asian hate crimes have gone up exponentially since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The group said they received reports of nearly 10,000 incidents since March 2020, with 43 percent of targeted victims of Chinese descent. 

They believe that the rise in attacks were spurred by what many say were then-President Donald Trump’s inflammatory remarks blaming the COVID-19 pandemic on China. He famously dubbed coronavirus ‘the China virus’ and ‘kung flu.’

The young athlete told the outlet that sports aren't a conventional career path in Hmong American communities, but thanks to her family, she was able to follow her dream

The young athlete told the outlet that sports aren’t a conventional career path in Hmong American communities, but thanks to her family, she was able to follow her dream

Elsewhere in the interview, the gymnast opened up about how the responsibility and pressures of being a gold medalist have effected her since her 2020 win

'I'm only 18, living in LA, and I have all of these expectations on me,' she said. 'On top of that, I put a lot of pressure on myself, so it's kind of scary'

Elsewhere in the interview, the gymnast opened up about how the responsibility and pressures of being a gold medalist have effected her since her 2020 win 

Elsewhere in the interview, Lee told the outlet that sports aren’t a conventional career path in Hmong American communities, but thanks to her parents, Yeev Thoj and John Lee, she was able to follow her dream.

‘I know that there’s a standard that Hmong girls have to live up to,’ she continued.  

The young athlete, who was born in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and has been competing in gymnastics since the age of seven, said she still doesn’t see herself as an Olympic gold medalist. She took home the gold medal as the all-around champion in women’s gymnastics at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, last summer.

‘It’s crazy to think that. I still have a hard time letting it sink in,’ she told the outlet. ‘Nobody expected me to win the gold medal, so when I did, my life turned overnight.’

In 2019, days before she was supposed to compete in the national championship, her dad – who was by her side at every single competition – suffered a terrifying injury when he fell off a ladder and was paralyzed from the chin down.

She said it was heartbreaking to see him in a wheelchair, but he insisted that she still go to the championships. 

While chatting with the mag, Lee revealed that she almost quit just days before the Olympic trials, due to the strain of practicing alone every day. But she explained that the special bond she shared with her teammates kept her going. 

Now, she's starring in Season 30 of Dancing With the Stars and has plans to attend Auburn University in Alabama. The sports star said she is hoping to have a 'normal' college experience

Now, she’s starring in Season 30 of Dancing With the Stars and has plans to attend Auburn University in Alabama. The sports star said she is hoping to have a ‘normal’ college experience

As for why she decided to participate in DWTS, she explained: 'I was doing gymnastics for, like, 12 years, and I feel like I never had time to just do anything fun'

As for why she decided to participate in DWTS, she explained: ‘I was doing gymnastics for, like, 12 years, and I feel like I never had time to just do anything fun’

The gymnast also opened up about how the responsibility and pressures of being a gold medalist have effected her since her 2020 win.

‘I’m only 18, living in LA, and I have all of these expectations on me,’ she said. ‘On top of that, I put a lot of pressure on myself, so it’s kind of scary.

‘I’m getting too caught up in my head that it’s taking away the joy from the experience. I’m surrounded by people every day, and sometimes, I like to just be alone. I haven’t really had a day to just chill and do nothing.’ 

Now, she’s starring in Season 30 of Dancing With the Stars and has plans to attend Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. And the sports star said she is hoping to have a ‘normal’ college experience, despite her massive fame.

‘I lost my whole childhood to gymnastics,’ she said, admitting that she was sad she missed out on ‘normal’ things in high school like football games, prom, and parties.

‘Since I sacrificed all of that, I wanted to have the college experience and get what I couldn’t have [in high school] … I wanted to be treated normal.’

As for her DWTS appearance, Suni explained, ‘I was doing gymnastics for, like, 12 years, and I feel like I never had time to just do anything fun. I really wanted to try and find myself on this show, because I feel like everything got taken away from me in gymnastics.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk