St. Paul Olympian Sunisa Lee one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2021

Just a couple of months after bringing home three medals from the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, St. Paul gymnast Sunisa Lee claimed another title Wednesday.

Time magazine named the 18-year-old East Sider to its list of the world’s 100 most influential people, where she appeared as one of its “pioneers” — one of the list’s six categories.

“As the first Hmong American Olympian, Suni has an impact that extends far beyond any border or sport — it signifies representation,” Hall of Fame gymnast Nastia Liukin wrote for the magazine. “This milestone has and will continue to inspire the Hmong community, but it also sends a simple yet powerful message to underrepresented people everywhere: Dream big because anything is possible.”

Lee, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Laos, got her start in gymnastics as an energetic 6-year-old, and as she rapidly progressed through the sport, she set her sights on the Olympics.

At the Games this summer, Lee earned a gold medal in the individual all-around competition, along with a silver and a bronze in other categories. She is now a freshman at Auburn University in Alabama.

Lee was joined on the 2021 Time 100 list by several other athletes, including tennis champion Naomi Osaka, track star Allyson Felix, baseball phenom Shohei Ohtani and Lee’s Olympic gymnastics teammate Simone Biles.

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