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Taylor Swift surprises Team USA gymnasts with inspirational video ahead of all-around competition

Superstar Taylor Swift (pictured) offered support and words of encouragement to Team USA in a heartfelt ahead of the women’s all-around gymnastics event at the Tokyo Olympics

Pop superstar Taylor Swift offered support and words of encouragement to the Team USA ahead of the women’s all-around gymnastics event at the Tokyo Olympics.

In a heartfelt video featuring footage from Team USA’s training sessions and overlaid with an instrumental version of the title track from her evermore album, Swift addressed the team’s unexpected challenges applauded their success.

‘They didn’t expect this to be the story. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t ready for the spotlight. They’ve worked for this. They’ve dreamed about this. They belong here,’ she said.

Swift’s message followed Simone Biles‘ withdraw from several Olympic competitions including the women’s all-around. Biles, 24, suffered a dramatic upset at the team final on Tuesday and suddenly withdrew from the competition, citing mental health concerns.  

‘Life can surprise you. It can humble you. It can test you. It can inspire you,’ Swift said in the video, likely commenting on how Sunisa Lee and Jade Carey, stepped up and excelled in difficult circumstances.

The promotional video (clip from video pictured above) featured footage from Team USA's training sessions and overlaid with an instrumental version of the titletrack from Swift's evermore album

The promotional video (clip from video pictured above) featured footage from Team USA’s training sessions and overlaid with an instrumental version of the titletrack from Swift’s evermore album

'Life can surprise you. It can humble you. It can test you. It can inspire you,' Swift said in the video. 'Don't be surprised as the story takes flight from here, in the women's all-around in Tokyo'

‘Life can surprise you. It can humble you. It can test you. It can inspire you,’ Swift said in the video. ‘Don’t be surprised as the story takes flight from here, in the women’s all-around in Tokyo’

The singer-songwriter continued, saying that this is not the last we’ll see of this Olympic squad. 

‘Don’t be surprised as the story takes flight from here, in the women’s all-around in Tokyo’ Swift said.

And, Swift was right. Lee, 18, was crowned Olympic all-around gymnastics champion on Thursday after she won gold ahead of Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade in second and the Russian Olympic Committee’s Angelina Melnikova in third. Carey, 21, who replaced Biles in the all-around competition, landed in eighth place overall.

Lee will now move on to compete in the finals for the uneven bars and the balance beam, both of which Biles also qualified for – although she has yet to confirm whether she will take part. 

In the wake of her sensational gold medal win, Lee paid an emotional tribute to her refugee parents – as she received a heartfelt message of support from her teammate Simone Biles, who heaped praised on the teenager for ‘absolutely killing it’ in the competition. 

Sunisa Lee, 18, (pictured) was crowned Olympic all-around gymnastics champion on Thursday after she won gold ahead of Brazil's Rebeca Andrade in second and the Russian Olympic Committee's Angelina Melnikova in third

Sunisa Lee, 18, (pictured) was crowned Olympic all-around gymnastics champion on Thursday after she won gold ahead of Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade in second and the Russian Olympic Committee’s Angelina Melnikova in third

Lee (pictured) will now move on to compete in the finals for the uneven bars and the balance beam

The 24-year-old effectively passed on her gymnastics crown to Lee, branding the teenager a ‘queen’ following her gold medal victory, while voicing her ‘pride’ at watching her teammate storm to success in the all-around final – which she had widely been expected to win before pulling out of the competition amid struggles with her mental health. 

Taking to Instagram shortly after Lee’s sensational top place finish was cemented with the Olympic medal ceremony, Biles posted a heartfelt message of congratulations to gymnastics star, sharing an image of them both from Tuesday’s team final, while writing: ‘CONGRATS PRINCESS [you] absolutely killed it!!! 

‘OLYMPIC CHAMPION RIGHT HERE !!! So so so beyond proud of you!!!!’

She then shared a behind-the-scenes video of Lee proudly brandishing her gold medal while reuniting with her teammates after the competition, saying: ‘Yesssss bbbbbbbyyy the queen has arrived!’    

Biles’ posts were made all the more poignant when Lee spoke out about the support she had received from her teammate in the lead-up to the all-around final in a post-event press conference – although she also admitted that the former champion’s decision to withdraw from competition had left her facing near-insurmountable pressure.

‘I was starting to put a little bit too much pressure on myself knowing that Simone was gone,’ she confessed. ‘I feel like people kind of put that pressure on me that I had to come back with a medal.’ 

Winner: The 18-year-old, from Minnesota, put up very impressive routines on all four events, ending the final with a stunning performance on the floor exercise, which cemented her victory and earned her the all-around crown

Winner: The 18-year-old, from Minnesota, put up very impressive routines on all four events, ending the final with a stunning performance on the floor exercise, which cemented her victory and earned her the all-around crown 

Emotional: Lee cried tears of joy as her gold medal win was announced

Emotional: Lee cried tears of joy as her gold medal win was announced 

Congratulations: Biles posted a touching tribute to her gold medal-winning teammate on Instagram, praising her for 'absolutely killing it' while celebrating her gold medal victory

Congratulations: Biles posted a touching tribute to her gold medal-winning teammate on Instagram, praising her for ‘absolutely killing it’ while celebrating her gold medal victory 

Watching on: Biles, 24, went into the Olympics as the favorite to win the competition, before announcing her decision to pull out of the all-around final, citing issues with her mental health as the reason for her withdrawal

Watching on: Biles, 24, went into the Olympics as the favorite to win the competition, before announcing her decision to pull out of the all-around final, citing issues with her mental health as the reason for her withdrawal 

Biles put on a brave face during the competition and was seen waving and smiling for the cameras, as her teammate Lee took over her title of Olympic all-around champion

Biles put on a brave face during the competition and was seen waving and smiling for the cameras, as her teammate Lee took over her title of Olympic all-around champion

Biles put on a brave face during the competition and was seen waving and smiling for the cameras, as her teammate Lee took over her title of Olympic all-around champion

Champion: US gymnast Sunisa Lee stormed to victory in the Olympic all-around final in Tokyo on Thursday while her teammate Simone Biles watched on - having blown the competition wide open by her shock decision to withdraw

Champion: US gymnast Sunisa Lee stormed to victory in the Olympic all-around final in Tokyo on Thursday while her teammate Simone Biles watched on – having blown the competition wide open by her shock decision to withdraw

'The queen has arrived': Shortly after her win, Lee was met by Biles, who shared a sweet video of the new all-around champion brandishing her gold medal

'The queen has arrived': Shortly after her win, Lee was met by Biles, who shared a sweet video of the new all-around champion brandishing her gold medal

‘The queen has arrived’: Shortly after her win, Lee was met by Biles, who shared a sweet video of the new all-around champion brandishing her gold medal 

Lee paid a heartfelt tribute to her Laotian refugee parents shortly after her win, sharing a video of her family and friends celebrating her victory at home, while writing: 'The people I do it all for. I love you all'

Lee paid a heartfelt tribute to her Laotian refugee parents shortly after her win, sharing a video of her family and friends celebrating her victory at home, while writing: ‘The people I do it all for. I love you all’

The newly-crowned darling of the gymnastics world noted that Biles’ exit from the lineup changed the game as far as she and her fellow medalists were concerned, confessing that they had all initially gone into the Olympics expecting to vie for second place. 

‘I kind of had to switch gears because we were coming in to compete for second place,’ she said of the moment she found out Biles would not be defending her Olympic title. ‘When the opportunity [for gold arose], I knew that I had to do what I normally do. 

‘This whole season I’ve been second to [Simone] so I just did my best, but I didn’t focus on it though because I knew that I would get in my head and probably do really bad.’

Simone Biles’ Olympic crown is claimed by US teammate Sunisa Lee: The final standings of the women’s all-around 

  1. Sunisa Lee (USA): 57.433
  2. Rebeca Andrade (Brazil): 57.298
  3. Angelina Melnikova (ROC): 57.199
  4. Vladislava Urazova (ROC)
  5. Mai Murakami (Japan)
  6. Nina Derwael (Belgium) 
  7. Tang Xijing (China) 
  8. Jade Carey (USA)  
  9. Elisabeth Seitz (Germany)
  10. Jessica Gadirova (Great Britain) 
  11. Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos (France)
  12. Carolann Héduit (France)
  13. Jennifer Gadirova (Great Britain)
  14. Zsófia Kovács (Hungary)
  15. Giulia Steingruber (Switzerland)
  16. Brooklyn Moors (Canada)
  17. Kim Bui (Germany)  
  18. Lu Yufei (China) 
  19. Martina Maggio (Italy) 
  20. Alice D’Amato (Italy) 
  21. Lee Yun-seo (South Korea) 
  22. Roxana Popa (Spain) 
  23. Jutta Verkest (Belgium) 
  24. Lieke Wevers (Netherlands)

Lee also revealed that the gold medal win was especially meaningful for her, because it came just a few years after she considered quitting the sport altogether amid her father’s brutal recovery from a 2019 accident that left him partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair. 

The teenager experienced further tragedy during the pandemic when she lost an aunt and an uncle to COVID-19 – all while trying to grapple with a year-long delay to the Olympics, which threw many athletes’ training schedules completely off-track.  

‘The past two years have been absolutely crazy with COVID and my family and everything else,’ Lee shared. ‘This medal definitely means a lot to me because there was a point in time where I wanted to quit and I just didn’t think I would ever get here, [especially with my own] injuries and stuff.

‘There are definitely a lot of emotions but I’m super proud of myself for sticking with it and believing in myself,’ she added, before paying tribute to her coaches, parents and the Team USA medical staff. 

Speaking to the Today show‘s Hoda Kotb, Lee praised her father’s unwavering dedication to her gymnastics dream, recalling how he ‘sacrificed everything’ to provide her with every opportunity possible. 

‘We both worked for this,’ she shared. ‘He sacrificed everything to put me in gymnastics. Both my parents really have. This is my family’s medal, my medal. My coach’s medal. He doesn’t get a medal, so I’m dedicating it to all of them.’

Lee also revealed that her father once vowed he would perform a backflip should his daughter ever win an Olympic gold medal, voicing her upset that his accident and injury, as well as the Games’ ban on traveling spectators, has left him unable to celebrate as he had always hoped. 

‘This has been our dream forever,’ she said. ‘I wish he was here. He always told me if I win the gold medal he would come out on the ground and do a backflip. It’s sad that he can’t be here, but this is our dream and this our medal.’

Following her victory, Lee also shared her own sweet message for her friends and family at home, posting a video of them all celebrating her victory, while praising them for being ‘the people I do it all for’. She added that her win still felt ‘unreal’. 

Lee’s posts came at the end of an incredibly close all-around competition, during which the teenager put on a spectacular display of skills to claim the win in a battle that was blown wide open by Biles’ shock decision to pull out of the race. 

Biles, from Texas, put on a brave face as she cheered and clapped for Minnesota native Lee, who forged ahead to victory in the hotly-contested final – which Biles had been widely expected to win – putting up strong routines on all four events in her quest for gold medal success.    

Lee quickly became one of the favorites to claim all-around gold after Biles announced that she was pulling out of the competition, citing her mental health struggles as the reason for her withdrawal. 

The gymnast qualified for the all-around final in third place, behind Biles and Brazilian gymnast Rebeca Andrade, however she quickly proved herself to be a top contender for the gold in the opening minutes of the competition, which she started with a very strong performance on vault, before moving on to the bars, beam, and floor exercise.  

The gymnast clinched her victory in the hotly-contested final, overtaking her main rival, Brazilian athlete Rebeca Andrade, mid-way through the competition

The gymnast clinched her victory in the hotly-contested final, overtaking her main rival, Brazilian athlete Rebeca Andrade, mid-way through the competition  

Champion: Lee put up incredibly strong routines on all four events, making very few mistakes throughout the competition, after becoming one of the favorites to win gold following Biles' withdrawal

Champion: Lee put up incredibly strong routines on all four events, making very few mistakes throughout the competition, after becoming one of the favorites to win gold following Biles’ withdrawal 

Teammates: The champion received a huge hug from her teammate Jade Carey, 21, who replaced Biles in the all-around final, and ended up with a top ten finish, landing herself in eighth place overall

Teammates: The champion received a huge hug from her teammate Jade Carey, 21, who replaced Biles in the all-around final, and ended up with a top ten finish, landing herself in eighth place overall

Cheerleaders: Lee’s family and friends were seen celebrating her win at home in Minnesota, having been forced to watch on from afar after spectators were banned from traveling to Japan for the Games amid the ongoing pandemic 

Proud: Lee's father (pictured in Minnesota), who was left partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair after falling out of a tree in 2019, appeared overcome with emotion as his daughter stormed to victory

Proud: Lee’s father (pictured in Minnesota), who was left partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair after falling out of a tree in 2019, appeared overcome with emotion as his daughter stormed to victory

Incredible: Her father John and mother Yeev Thoj were both seen tearing up as they watched the final unfold

Incredible: Her father John and mother Yeev Thoj were both seen tearing up as they watched the final unfold 

First up: The teenager's quest for victory began on the vault, where she earned a solid score of 14.6 after performing an impressive Yurchenko double twist

First up: The teenager’s quest for victory began on the vault, where she earned a solid score of 14.6 after performing an impressive Yurchenko double twist 

All the way up: Lee then moved onto bars - her best event - where she earned a huge score of 15.3, which helped her to move up into silver medal position, just behind Brazilian gymnast Andrade

All the way up: Lee then moved onto bars - her best event - where she earned a huge score of 15.3, which helped her to move up into silver medal position, just behind Brazilian gymnast Andrade

All the way up: Lee then moved onto bars – her best event – where she earned a huge score of 15.3, which helped her to move up into silver medal position, just behind Brazilian gymnast Andrade  

Moving on up! It was on the four-inch-wide balance beam that Lee staged her dramatic overtake to move into the gold medal spot, having put up a very solid routine that earned a score of 13.833

The teenager was reduced to tears of joy as her victory was announced in the stadium shortly after she completed her sensational routine on the floor, twisting and leaping to gold medal success, while former Olympic champion Biles cheered and applauded from the sidelines.  

She celebrated with a huge hug from her US teammate Jade Carey, 21, who replaced Biles in the all-around competition, but had a disappointing competition that saw her making several mistakes on the uneven bars and balance beam, which ultimately landed her in eighth place overall.  

Lee on the other hand was near-perfect throughout the competition, making just a handful of tiny mistakes throughout, ensuring that the all-around title remained firmly in US hands and continuing a legacy that was started by Carly Patterson in 2004, and then continued by Nastia Liukin in 2008, Gabby Douglas in 2012, and Biles in 2016. 

She moved ahead into first-place position mid-way through the final, overtaking Brazilian athlete Rebeca Andrade, 22, who qualified in the silver medal spot behind Biles – but surged ahead in the opening rounds of the competition, before Lee staged a dramatic overtake.

The teenager began the competition on the vault, where she earned a solid score of 14.6, which left her in second place behind Andrade – a position that she maintained after the uneven bars, her best event, where she scored a sky-high 15.3. 

However, it was on the four-inch-wide balance beam that Lee shook up the standings and flipped herself into the top spot, putting up a very solid routine that earned her a score of 13.833 and, more importantly, landed her in gold medal position before the final event: floor exercise.  

After years of dominance by Biles, who has proven herself almost unbeatable since she rocketed onto the gymnastics scene ahead of the 2016 Games in Rio, the all-around final was incredibly close, with just a few tenths of a point separating the top three gymnasts as they prepared to tumble their way across the floor. 

It was predicted that Andrade, who boasted a higher starting score than Lee, would clinch the gold medal in the final minutes of the competition, however her dreams of championship success were quickly dashed when she landed out of bounds on her first tumbling pass, before making several other mistakes.  

Speaking at a post-event press conference, Lee admitted that she considered quitting the sport a few years ago, following a series of injuries - and in the wake of her father's horrific accident, which left him suffering from a spinal injury

Speaking at a post-event press conference, Lee admitted that she considered quitting the sport a few years ago, following a series of injuries - and in the wake of her father's horrific accident, which left him suffering from a spinal injury

Speaking at a post-event press conference, Lee admitted that she considered quitting the sport a few years ago, following a series of injuries – and in the wake of her father’s horrific accident, which left him suffering from a spinal injury

Shock: Lee looked stunned when the news of her victory was announced

Shock: Lee looked stunned when the news of her victory was announced 

She did it! The gymnast was then seen throwing her arms up in excitement as her victory sunk in

She did it! The gymnast was then seen throwing her arms up in excitement as her victory sunk in

She did it! The gymnast was then seen throwing her arms up in excitement as her victory sunk in 

Love to the fans: She then made a heart-shaped gesture towards the stands - perhaps directing the sweet display at her teammates who were cheering her on to victory

Love to the fans: She then made a heart-shaped gesture towards the stands – perhaps directing the sweet display at her teammates who were cheering her on to victory 

During a post-event press conference, Lee praised her coach, Jeff Graba, for his unwavering support and encouragement, saying: 'He helps me through everything'

During a post-event press conference, Lee praised her coach, Jeff Graba, for his unwavering support and encouragement, saying: ‘He helps me through everything’ 

Close! Lee clinched her medal win after inching ahead of rival Andrade by less than two tenths of a point, ending her final with an overall score of 57.433, while the Brazilian athlete finished on 57.298

Close! Lee clinched her medal win after inching ahead of rival Andrade by less than two tenths of a point, ending her final with an overall score of 57.433, while the Brazilian athlete finished on 57.298

This then cleared the way for Lee to leap to victory, cementing her status as the new darling of gymnastics. 

Her incredibly clean and dynamic floor routine saw her end the competition on top and she was quickly reduced to tears of joy as her gold medal win was announced around the arena – prompting enthusiastic applause and cheers from Biles, who was seated in the stands alongside her fellow Team USA gymnasts Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, and Mykayla Skinner.  

The gymnast’s victory also prompted screams of excitement and joy from her family and friends at home, who gathered together to watch Lee take part in the all-around and were filmed reacting in ecstasy as she clinched the all-around title. 

Could Team USA’s star gymnast add MORE medals to her tally? All-around champion Lee could still claim gold in two more finals

Lee, 18, has already cemented her status as the new darling of the gymnastics world, but she still has two more chances to claim gold following her all-around victory. 

The teenager qualified for the balance beam and uneven bars finals and is considered a top contender for a medal in both events.  

She will next compete on Sunday on the uneven bars – which is her strongest event – before moving on to the balance beam final on Tuesday.  

In qualification, Lee placed second on the uneven bars behind Belgian gymnast Nina Derwael, and third on the beam behind China’s Guan Chenchen and Tang Xijing. 

Lee’s father, John, who was paralyzed and left in a wheelchair after sustaining a spinal injury when he fell from a tree in 2019, appeared overcome with emotion as he watched his daughter’s Olympic dreams come true – having spent years supporting her from the sidelines. 

However he was unable to travel to Tokyo after spectators were banned from making the trip to Japan amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – and serious fears for the health and safety of both the Olympic competitors and the locals. 

Instead, Lee’s mother and father were forced to watch on from afar as their daughter stormed to victory in the all-around – a history-making result that prompted elated tears from her family at home. 

Both of Lee’s parents are Laotian refugees who fled the country in the wake of the Vietnam war – and even before her gold medal win, she earned a place in the history books with her participation in Tokyo as the first Hmong-American to represent Team USA at the Olympics.  

Lee has now become the fifth consecutive American gymnast to win gold in the Olympic all-around competition, following in the footsteps of sporting legends and bringing much-needed glory to USA Gymnastics, which has been mired in controversy and scandal for the past few years in the wake of former team doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse being brought to light. 

The pedophile was revealed to have sexually assaulted more than 150 gymnasts during his 30-year career – including Biles, who hinted on Wednesday that the trauma of his abuse is behind the mental health issues that prompted her to withdraw from both the all-around and the team finals. 

Lee’s win was widely celebrated on social media, with former Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman leading the praise, branding the teenager a ‘superstar’ in a heartfelt tweet. 

US Senator and Minnesota resident Amy Klobuchar also voiced her ‘pride’ at watching one of the state’s own earn such an impressive victory. 

‘So proud of Minnesota’s own @sunisalee_ taking it home!’ she wrote. ‘Grace under pressure. Remarkable.’ 

Former US Olympic gymnasts Kerri Strug and Chellsie Memmel chimed in with their own supportive tweets. 

‘Congratulations @sunisalee_!’ Strug, 43, wrote. ‘Amazing courage and execution in the moment!’

Memmel, 33, then chimed in: ‘What an incredible performance, you are amazing @sunisalee_. Go USA.’ 

18-year-old Lee’s all-around win sees her claim her second medal at the Tokyo Games, having helped the US to win silver in the team final following Biles’ dramatic withdrawal from competition.  

New role: Biles looked tense at several points during the competition, removing her face mask briefly as she watched the athletes compete for the title that she was widely expected to win

New role: Biles looked tense at several points during the competition, removing her face mask briefly as she watched the athletes compete for the title that she was widely expected to win 

Emotional: Despite smiling for the cameras, Biles appeared to get emotional at one point - and was seen putting her hands up to her face as she watched Carey land her vault

Emotional: Despite smiling for the cameras, Biles appeared to get emotional at one point - and was seen putting her hands up to her face as she watched Carey land her vault

Emotional: Despite smiling for the cameras, Biles appeared to get emotional at one point – and was seen putting her hands up to her face as she watched Carey land her vault

The gymnast sat in between her teammates Jordan Chiles (left) and Mykayla Skinner (right) as she cheered on the US athletes

The gymnast sat in between her teammates Jordan Chiles (left) and Mykayla Skinner (right) as she cheered on the US athletes

Ready to go! Both Lee and Carey went into the competition in strong contention for the gold medal, with the latter only earning her spot in the all-around final when Biles announced that she was withdrawing

Ready to go! Both Lee and Carey went into the competition in strong contention for the gold medal, with the latter only earning her spot in the all-around final when Biles announced that she was withdrawing

Ready to go! Both Lee and Carey went into the competition in strong contention for the gold medal, with the latter only earning her spot in the all-around final when Biles announced that she was withdrawing

Flying high: Carey, who is from Arizona, completed an impressive Cheng that earned her a 15.2 - however her dreams of winning an all-around were dashed after she made several mistakes on the uneven bars and beam

Flying high: Carey, who is from Arizona, completed an impressive Cheng that earned her a 15.2 – however her dreams of winning an all-around were dashed after she made several mistakes on the uneven bars and beam

Lee faced tough opposition from Adrade and Russian star Angelina Melnikova, who finished in second and third place respectively, having fought tooth and nail until the very end of the nail-biting final

Lee faced tough opposition from Adrade and Russian star Angelina Melnikova, who finished in second and third place respectively, having fought tooth and nail until the very end of the nail-biting final

Lee faced tough opposition from Adrade (left) and Russian star Angelina Melnikova (right), who finished in second and third place respectively, having fought tooth and nail until the very end of the nail-biting final  

The Team USA star managed to fend off the competition and maintain her gold medal position, leaving Andrade with the silver and Melnikova with the bronze

The Team USA star managed to fend off the competition and maintain her gold medal position, leaving Andrade with the silver and Melnikova with the bronze 

The gymnast will have two more shots at a medal at this year’s Olympics, having qualified for both the balance beam and uneven bars finals – both of which she is due to compete in with Biles, who has yet to confirm whether or not she plans to take part. 

Lee is a top contender for a medal in both events, having placed second in the qualifiers for the uneven bars – which is her strongest apparatus – behind Belgium’s Nina Derwael, and third in the balance beam, behind China’s Guan Chenchen and Tang Xijing. 

Her victory in the all-around has more than proven her ability to perform when it really matters however – a skill that she also made very clear during the team final, when she stepped up to fill Biles’ shoes on the floor, having only intended to compete on the bars and beam. 

Carey will also have another two chances to earn her first Olympic medal in Tokyo; the Arizona native did not compete in the team event, having qualified for the Games in an individual spot, meaning that she was only eligible to take part in the solo competitions. 

The 21-year-old qualified for the vault final in second place behind Biles, and would likely go into the final as the favorite to win gold should her teammate decide to pull out. She also finished just behind Biles in the floor exercise qualifier, landing in third place after her teammate and Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari, who place in the top spot.

Lee’s all-around win came just one day after Biles announced that she was withdrawing from the competition and would not be defending her Olympic title, amid ongoing struggles with her mental health, which she has hinted are related to the ongoing trauma of the abuse she endured at the hands of Nassar, who is currently serving a 175-year prison sentence. 

The gymnast broke her silence hours after the news was shared, when she thanked her fans for their ‘support and love’, noting that her fans have helped her to realize ‘she is more than gymnastics’. 

‘The outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before,’ Biles tweeted on Wednesday night.   

Biles thanked her fans for their 'love and support' after her shock withdrawal from the individual all-around final at the Tokyo Olympics in a tweet on Wednesday

Biles thanked her fans for their ‘love and support’ after her shock withdrawal from the individual all-around final at the Tokyo Olympics in a tweet on Wednesday

Back-up: She was joined by her teammates, who happily posed for photos with the superstar as they prepared to cheer on Team USA's athletes

Back-up: She was joined by her teammates, who happily posed for photos with the superstar as they prepared to cheer on Team USA’s athletes 

Let's go girls: Carey and Lee were both considered strong contenders for a medal in the competition - with Lee qualifying for the final in third place, behind Biles and Andrade

Let’s go girls: Carey and Lee were both considered strong contenders for a medal in the competition – with Lee qualifying for the final in third place, behind Biles and Andrade

The gymnast managed to forge ahead into the gold medal position after the third rotation, during which she racked up a strong score of 13.833 on the beam

The gymnast managed to forge ahead into the gold medal position after the third rotation, during which she racked up a strong score of 13.833 on the beam 

Fighter: Carey struggled on the bars and her resulting score of 13.5 saw her drop down into sixth place - before she eventually fell to eighth overall in the final standings

Fighter: Carey struggled on the bars and her resulting score of 13.5 saw her drop down into sixth place – before she eventually fell to eighth overall in the final standings 

Carey came off the beam during her routine, a mistake that likely cost her a chance at a medal, leaving her with a very low score of 11.533

Carey came off the beam during her routine, a mistake that likely cost her a chance at a medal, leaving her with a very low score of 11.533

Carey came off the beam during her routine, a mistake that likely cost her any chance at a medal, and left her with a very low score of 11.533 

Commentary: Biles was seen chatting about the competition with Skinner, with the two women keeping a close eye on the gymnasts as they showed off their skills

Commentary: Biles was seen chatting about the competition with Skinner, with the two women keeping a close eye on the gymnasts as they showed off their skills 

Chiles, who is the gymnast's best friend and home gym teammate, also provided support

Chiles, who is the gymnast’s best friend and home gym teammate, also provided support 

Biles stunned spectators and athletes alike in Tuesday’s team final when she flubbed her vault – her first skill – by bailing out of a skill mid-air, completing just one-and-a-half twists instead of the intended two-and-a-half, an error that saw her earn an uncharacteristically low score of just 13.766. 

Will Biles continue ANY of her individual quests for gold? Gymnast’s finals thrown into doubt

After her shock withdrawal from the team final and tomorrow’s individual all-round, Simone Biles’ future at the Tokyo Olympics is in serious doubt.

She is still scheduled to take part in the finals for the vault, uneven bars, floor exercise, and balance beam.

Should she choose to take part – and provided she gets the all-clear from USA Gymnastics – Biles’ upcoming events schedule is:

  • SUNDAY, AUGUST 1: Vault final and uneven bars final
  • MONDAY, AUGUST 2: Floor exercise final
  • TUESDAY, AUGUST 3: Balance beam final

Biles struggled in qualifying for these events, ending up in the eighth and final spot for uneven bars, the sixth spot for balance beam, and the second spot on floor exercise.

Moments later, it was announced that she was pulling out of the lineup altogether, leaving her three teammates, Lee, Jordan Chiles, 20, and Grace McCallum, 18, to try and overtake their Russian rivals without her. While the trio of first-time Olympians put on a bold fight – at one point narrowing the gap between themselves and the Russian Olympic Committee to just a few tenths of a point – they ultimately ended up in silver medal position. 

Biles later hinted that the horrific sexual abuse she endured at the hands of pedophile doctor Larry Nassar is behind the mental health issues that prompted her shock withdrawal.

The 24-year-old drew a line between the trauma of Nassar’s abuse and her decision to pull out of both the team and individual all-around medal events for the first time when she retweeted a statement of support from a fellow gymnast – who hit out at critics of the sporting superstar, while reminding the world that Biles was ‘molested by her team doctor throughout her entire childhood’.

‘We are talking about the same girl who was molested by her team doctor throughout her entire childhood and teenage years,’ the statement, which was written by former gymnast-turned-fitness trainer Andrea Orris, read.

It continued: ‘That girl has endured more trauma by the age of 24 than most people will ever go through in a lifetime.’

Although Biles, who was seen for the first time since the announcement when she stepped out to cheer on Team USA’s male gymnasts in Tokyo on Wednesday, did not issue her own statement about Nassar or her decision to pull out of the all-around, a US official told DailyMail.com that Orris’ message ‘sums up everything Simone is feeling and wants to say’. 

The source continued: ‘The fact that Simone has retweeted it, shows that she agrees with every word that’s been said on her behalf.’

Biles, who has been incredibly outspoken in her criticism of USAG’s handling of the Nassar scandal, and her struggle to deal with the resulting trauma of his abuse, did not share her own statement – instead allowing the news to be shared by the organization that she has so frequently blasted for ‘failing’ to protect its gymnasts from the pedophile doctor.

‘After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health,’ the statement read.

‘Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals. We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.’

Biles is one of more than 150 gymnasts who were abused by Nassar, the former national team doctor, during his 30-year career, and in 2019, she revealed that the trauma of the assaults had left her struggling with suicidal thoughts. 

Biles (pictured on Wednesday in Tokyo) hinted that the abuse she suffered at the hands of pedophile doctor Larry Nassar is behind the mental health issues that pushed her to withdraw from the team and individual all-around finals

Biles (pictured on Wednesday in Tokyo) hinted that the abuse she suffered at the hands of pedophile doctor Larry Nassar is behind the mental health issues that pushed her to withdraw from the team and individual all-around finals 

The 24-year-old revealed in 2018 that she was one of more than 150 gymnasts abused by the former national team doctor during his 30-year career and she later admitted that the trauma of the abuse left her suffering with suicidal thoughts

The 24-year-old revealed in 2018 that she was one of more than 150 gymnasts abused by the former national team doctor (pictured) during his 30-year career and she later admitted that the trauma of the abuse left her suffering with suicidal thoughts

The 24-year-old revealed in 2018 that she was one of more than 150 gymnasts abused by the former national team doctor (right) during his 30-year career and she later admitted that the trauma of the abuse left her suffering with suicidal thoughts

Simone's decision to pull out of the competition came just moments after she suffered a very uncharacteristic stumble on the vault

Simone’s decision to pull out of the competition came just moments after she suffered a very uncharacteristic stumble on the vault 

The 24-year-old - who had been expected to lead the US to gold in the team event - withdrew from the lineup after flubbing her vault in the opening minutes of the team final

The 24-year-old – who had been expected to lead the US to gold in the team event – withdrew from the lineup after flubbing her vault in the opening minutes of the team final 

At the time, she admitted that she was ‘sleeping all the time’ because it was ‘the closest thing to death’, while revealing that she was undergoing therapy in order to deal with the abuse. 

Biles has yet to announce whether she plans to take part in the other four individual event finals that she qualified for: vault, uneven bars, floor exercise and balance beam. 

If she chooses to take part, the gymnast will return to the Ariake arena as a competitor rather than a spectator for the first time since the team final on Sunday, when the vault and uneven bars finals are scheduled to take place.  

She also qualified for spots in Monday’s floor exercise final and Tuesday’s balance beam final. 

If she chooses to withdraw from all competitions, her spots in those finals will be handed to other athletes – including her US teammate Skinner, who would take over her place in the vault final.   

Skinner narrowly missed out on a place in the vault final because of the two-athlete-per-country rule – despite finishing in fourth place in the qualifying round, behind Biles, Carey, and Andrade. Should Biles choose to pull out of the event, Skinner would be next in line to take her spot – just as Carey has now done for the all-around final.

Before Biles’ Olympic future was thrown into doubt, Skinner had expressed her ‘heartbreak’ over her failure to qualify for any individual finals, which meant that her competition ended after the first day of events.

In the other event finals, Biles’ spot would be handed to athletes from other countries; on the uneven bars, she would likely be replaced by French athlete Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos, while Japan’s Urara Ashikawa would be given a chance on the balance beam. British gymnast Jennifer Gadirova, who helped to propel her team to a surprise bronze medal finish in Tuesday’s competition, is next in line to compete in the floor exercise.

It is currently unclear when Biles will announce her decision about whether or not to compete; the news about her withdrawal from the all-around competition came a little more than 24 hours before it was due to begin, suggesting that she may well wait until Friday or Saturday before confirming her participation in Sunday’s vault and uneven bars events.  

Meet gymnastics’ new queen: How 18-year-old Team USA star Sunisa Lee overcame her refugee father’s 2019 accident that left him paralyzed to claim GOLD in women’s all-around in Tokyo

  • Sunisa, 18, took gold in the all-around women’s final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics today
  • The Minnesota resident is the youngest member of Team USA and the first Hmong-American to represent the United States at the Olympics
  • She previously won gold at the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart
  • The star gymnasts’ parents were both refugees from Laos
  • Her father, John Lee, fell while trimming tree branches in 2019 and suffered a spinal cord injury that left him partially paralyzed

By CARLY STERN FOR DAILYMAIL.COM 

As Sunisa Lee celebrates her gold medal win in the women’s gymnastics all-around final today, the Team USA star has become an instant household name — but who is the 18-year-old gymnast who took the top spot in her first-ever Olympics Games?

Sunisa, who hails from Minnesota, is the daughter of Laotian refugees who fled the country in the wake of the Vietnam War — and she’s also the first Hmong-American to represent the United States at the Olympics.

Her road to the Games wasn’t an easy one, with the star persevering through personal tragedy after her father was paralyzed in a freak accident in 2019 that left him in a wheelchair.

But both of her parents, who were unable to accompany her to the Games due to COVID rules, excitedly cheered her on from home as she bested the competition on Thursday, with her mother moved to tears when Sunisa was announced as the winner.

Sunisa grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where her family settled to pursue the American dream. 

Both of her parents, Houa John Lee and Yeev Thoj, were born in Laos and are members of the Hmong ethnic group. During the Vietnam War, the Hmong were recruited to fight alongside American forces to stave off communism — and they paid a heavy price. 

At just 18 years old, Sunisa — who just graduated from high school — is the youngest member of the team

At just 18 years old, Sunisa — who just graduated from high school — is the youngest member of the team

At just 18 years old, Sunisa Lee — who just graduated from high school — is the youngest member of the US gymnastics team

Sunisa (far left) is pictured with her teammates in matching outfits at the Olympic Village

Sunisa (far left) is pictured with her teammates in matching outfits at the Olympic Village

About 50,000 Hmong civilians were killed in all, with about 25 per cent of all Hmong men killed in combat. Many were killed by their own government after US forces withdrew, leading many remaining Hmong to flee for their safety.

According to a feature in Minnesota’s Star Tribune, her mother and father were still children when their families fled Laos in the ’70s, ending up first in refugee camps in Thailand. 

‘When the U.S. pulled out of Laos, the war wasn’t over,’ her father, a Navy veteran, explained. ‘People had to go to Thailand for their safety, and for a chance to have a better life.’  

They weren’t allowed to settle in Thailand, though, and in 1979, when Sunisa’s dad was eight years old, his family emigrated to the US. Her mom emigrated at age 12, in 1987.

‘We know they did it for a reason, so they could be safe and their kids could have a good life,’ Sunisa said of her grandparents’ reasons for fleeing. ‘It’s something very cool for my generation to know they did that for us. And it was all worth it.’ 

They ultimately made their way to Minnesota, home to about 80,000 Hmong people — who see her as their ‘ambassador to the world.’ 

Her parents met as adults in Minnesota. According to ESPN, John is not Sunisa’s biological father: He was a divorced dad of two children, Jonah and Shyenne, when he met Sunisa’s mom, Yeev — who was then a single mom to two-year-old Sunisa, whom she named after her favorite Thai soap opera actress. 

But the pair clearly bonded, with Sunisa choosing to legally change her last name to Lee.   

Sunisa — known as Suni to friends and family — is one of five siblings in all, including sisters Shyenne and Evionn and brothers Jonah, Lucky, and Noah.

As a young girl, she became enchanted by gymnastics after watching videos on YouTube, telling the New York Times: ‘Once I started, I just couldn’t stop. It looked so fun, and I wanted to try it myself.’  

The star's parents (pictured with her father) are both Laotian refugees who fled the country as children in the wake of the Vietnam war

The star’s parents (pictured with her father) are both Laotian refugees who fled the country as children in the wake of the Vietnam war

She would flip and tumble around the family’s home, even swinging from metal bars holding up a clothesline in the backyard. When she was six, her parents signed her up for classes at Midwest Gymnastics Center in Little Canada, where she still trains today with coaches Jess Graba and Alison Lim, who own the gym.   

‘She was a very active kid, always tumbling around,’ her aunt, Cecelia Lee, told the Star Tribune. ‘But who would have known it would lead to this?’ 

As she got better, her dad built her a wooden balance beam she could use to practice at home, making it himself because the family couldn’t afford a real one. 

Her dad has always been a huge supporter. When Sunisa was 12, he bet her that if she won first place in a competition she was preparing for, he’d buy her an iPhone. That was no small bet for John, but he meant it — so when she won, he sold a truck to pay for her price. 

‘When Suni started competing as an elite, I traveled with her almost everywhere,’ he told ESPN. ‘I always talked to her before the competition, and sometimes I’d be hard on her and she’d get mad. When Suni’s mad, she focuses a little better.’

But, he said, his message has changed a bit as she has moved up to the big leagues. 

‘Now she’s used to me telling her to go out there and have fun,’ he said.

Sunisa has managed to stay focused even as tragedy struck her family. In August 2019, John was on a ladder trimming a neighbor’s tree branches when he fell to the ground, suffering grave injuries including fractured ribs, a broken wrist, and worst of all, a spinal cord injury. 

Her father, John Lee, has been partially paralyzed since a freak fall in 2019

Her father, John Lee, has been partially paralyzed since a freak fall in 2019

Her dad also suffered from fractured ribs and a broken wrist when he sustained a spinal cord injury in 2019

Her dad also suffered from fractured ribs and a broken wrist when he sustained a spinal cord injury in 2019

He spent time in the hospital, but insisted that Sunisa still compete in her first senior national championships days later. Knowing her dad was watching on TV, a then 16-year-old Sunisa dominated, finishing the all-around in second place finished behind Simone Biles and earning gold on uneven bars.

Today, John remains paralyzed from the weight down and wheelchair-bound — but says that his daughter gives him strength.

‘Before my injury, I was active and athletic and I fixed everything around the house,’ he said. ‘I can’t do any of that now, and it’s hard. But when I get so angry at myself, I look at Sunisa and think about what she has had to go through to get to where she’s at, and she inspires me.’  

This year has been a busy one for Sunisa. Before coming to the Olympics, she had already begun racking up medals, placing first on uneven bars at the 2021 Winter Cup, the 2021 American Classic, and the 2021 U.S. Gymnastics Championships.

She also graduated from high school at South Saint Paul Secondary, where her favorite subject was science. In the fall, she’ll attend Auburn University in Alabama.  

But while there have been plenty of exciting moments, there have been hard times too. She became depressed with the Olympics were postponed last year, and even considered quitting gymnastics. When she finally got back to the gym, she broke her foot, setting her back. She also lost a beloved aunt and uncle who contracted COVID-19. 

‘It’s been a tough year, but I’m super proud of myself,’ she said. ‘After COVID and quarantine, I was unmotivated because we had so much time off and I felt I wasn’t good enough anymore. But now I’ve been a lot better mentally, and you can see it in my gymnastics.’ 

The whole world could see it as she nabbed her first Olympic gold medal today. That included her proud parents, who were forced to watch from home due to the Olympic ban of family members.

‘It’s really hard because it’s been all of our dreams and for them to not even be able to go to the Olympics and watch is something that is so heartbreaking,’ Sunisa admitted to People

‘Even though we can’t go and support her in-person, I’m glad that we could share with the world,’ her dad told WCCO. ‘We’re just all so happy, we cheered her on. We had the full house so we were pretty loud.’  


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