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An 18-year-old gymnast fighting to become the first Hmong American to make the Olympics gymnastics team placed runner-up behind four-time gold medalist Simone Biles on Sunday.
The championships: Suni Lee earned her second consecutive silver medal in the all-around competition and secured second place in the U.S. Gymnastics Championships over the weekend.
Lee takes pride in her placement and says that it "felt really good to be in the top two," according to Star Tribune. The young gymnast finished with a total score of 114,950 points which fell behind Biles by 4.7 points.
The championship placement secured her spot as a top contender for the Olympic trials. She was among a group of 18 gymnasts to qualify for the trials on June 24-27 in St. Louis. The U.S. will send a team of four women and two individual qualifiers to Tokyo for the Olympics.
Lee caught the attention of Tom Forster, a high-performance coordinator for women's USA Gymnastics, after nailing a big finish against Jordan Chiles.
Forster said she hasn't "put together a real solid all-around up to this point" because of her injuries, but it seems like she's "right back where she was in 2019."
Gymnastics history: Lee began gymnastics in 2009 because it was "fun" and she "liked to do flips," according to USA Gymnastics.
Lee hopes to become the first Hmong American Olympics gymnast. Her dad told Elle Magazine that it would be the "greatest accomplishment of any Hmong person in the U.S. ever" and that "it will go down in history."
In the 2019 U.S. Championships, Lee placed silver in the all-around competition, "nailing one of the hardest bar routines in the world." She is also the only other woman besides Biles to win a gold medal at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
At the U.S. World Championships selection camp, she was four-tenths of a point away from beating Biles, the closest anyone has come to surpassing her in years.
Lee's gym closed for three months due to the pandemic and when she returned in June 2020, she broke her foot. She said that the extra year "strengthened her performance on the uneven bars" and "made her more consistent overall."
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