Publish date:

Minnesota Olympic-hopeful Sunisa Lee competing with her father on her mind

Lee has finished second to Simone Biles twice since August.
Author:
sunisa lee

Sunisa Lee (left) with Simone Biles (right).

Minnesota could be on the map for a number of reasons during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with Lakeville swimmer Regan Smith and St. Paul gymnast Sunisa Lee both hoping to qualify with Team USA. 

But for Lee, she's grinding through qualifying competition while her father, 49-year-old Houa John Lee, is going through the recovery process after he was paralyzed from the chest down in a tree trimming accident. 

According to a GoFundMe campaign, Lee was helping a friend trim a tree on Aug. 4 when he fell, suffering a complete spinal cord injury, fractured ribs and a broken wrist. He then developed life-threatening pneumonia. 

It's too early to tell if Lee will walk again, but the U.S. Navy veteran's – he served in the Persian Gulf War from 1990-94 – main goal is to get back to work to support his family and "attend the 2020 Summer Olympics" with Sunisa Lee, whom the fundraiser describes as an "elite gymnast" hoping to make the Olympic team. 

"Whether she makes the team or not, John is determined to go to Tokyo, Japan to support the US Women’s gymnastics team with his daughter," the fundraiser says. 

Sunisa Lee finished second to American superstar Simone Biles in the U.S. World Championships in August, and she followed that performance up with another second-place finish to Biles at the world team selection camp in September. 

“What’s impressed me the most, I think, has been Suni,” Biles said of Lee in an interview with NBC Sports. “She’s only 16 years old. She’s been through a long year, and to come out and put up the three events and the scores she did is pretty crazy." 

On Thursday, Sunisa finished eighth in the world championships all-around compeition, with Biles winning gold for a fifth time. She'll get another chance to shine this weekend as she competes in the bars and floor exercise. 

The online fundraiser for the Lee family will help pay for medical expenses, lost wages, a fitted car and housing adjustments to combat John's paralysis. 

Next Up

mickey moore driver's license shared

Beleaguered Ward 9 city council candidate loses Strib endorsement

Mickey Moore has faced questions in recent days about where he actually lives.

CDC biohazard scientist health work

New clue may explain how rare tropical disease sickened Minnesotan

The disease, known as melioidosis, killed 2 people earlier this year.

Sen Mark Koran crop

MN lawmaker encourages donations for locals charged in Jan. 6 insurrection

"They are a good family!" Sen. Mark Koran wrote Friday.

money

Money Gal Coaching: Mastering the spiritual parts of money

Kelly Blodgett used her passion behind becoming debt free to launch Money Gal Coaching.

University of minnesota sign

U of M will now require proof that employees have been vaccinated for COVID

Previously, only students were required to be vaccinated.

Jim Hagedorn

Report reveals details about ethics investigation into Rep. Hagedorn

The congressman described the report's findings as "unfounded conclusions."

33462769592_d32f34fd48_k

SkyWest cancels hundreds of flights due to server error

More than 80 have been canceled at MSP Airport.

elk

First elk in more than 100 years spotted in parts of southern WI

The elk population was reintroduced to Wisconsin in recent decades.

grand marais

10 beautiful Minnesota cities to visit for outdoor adventures

These places are perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway.

Related

Suni Lee

Suni Lee, Regan Smith take home Olympic medals Sunday

Lee won bronze in the uneven bars final, while Smith won silver in the 4x100-meter medley relay.

Screen Shot 2021-07-29 at 8.13.48 AM

St. Paul's Sunisa Lee wins all-around gymnastics Olympic gold

A gold medal for the 18-year-old from St. Paul.

unnamed (6)

Donations pour in to fly Minnesota olympic gymnasts to Tokyo in first class

It'll be a much more comfortable flight for the athletes.

suni lee

St. Paul's Suni Lee named to Time's list of 100 Most Influential People

Lee won three medals at the Tokyo Olympics, including an all-around gold.

Suni Lee

Suni Lee, Shane Wiskus solidify bids for U.S. Olympic gymnastics team

Roseville native Mason Ferlic also qualified for Tokyo in track and field.

Screen Shot 2021-06-20 at 9.21.00 AM

Updates on Minnesotans bidding for spots at the Summer Olympics

St. Paul's Suni Lee could qualify for the U.S. gymnastics team this week.