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Olympian gymnast Suni Lee says she was pepper sprayed in anti-Asian attack

Associated Press/Jeff Roberson

Olympic gymnast Suni Lee said she was pepper sprayed after being targeted with anti-Asian slurs while visiting her hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota a few weeks ago. 

The 18-year-old gold medalist said she was waiting for an Uber with a group of Asian-American friends when people in a car drove by yelling slurs including “ching chong” and saying they should “go back to where they came from,” according to a profile in Pop Sugar

Lee said one passenger pepper sprayed her arm before the car drove away. 

“I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off,” she was quoted as saying. “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 was the first Hmong American to ever partake in the Olympics. She told Pop Sugar that she finds it difficult to speak out on sensitive issues due to her age, but realizes she now has a powerful voice. 

Lee is joining the Auburn University gymnastics team next year, and noted the arena has already sold out of tickets for the upcoming season. “All eyes are going to be on not only me, but my whole college team,” she said. 

Anti-Asian hate crimes more than doubled in 2020. In May, President Joe Biden signed an anti-Asian hate crime bill into law with bipartisan support. 

Democrats have blamed former President Trump for the surge in anti-Asian sentiment, pointing to his comments calling the coronavirus “China virus” and “Kung flu.” 

Tags 2021 Olympics Anti-Asian attack anti-Asian discrimination Anti-Asian hate Donald Trump Joe Biden Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee Tokyo Olympics

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