US gymnast Sunisa Lee expressed support for her teammates after superstar Simone Biles’ stunning Olympics withdrawal and defended their second-place finish in the team competition — defiantly saying they “do not owe anyone a gold medal.”
The 18-year-old from Minnesota tweeted Tuesday night that she has “never been prouder to be apart of such an amazing team with an amazing group of girls.”
She added: “We stepped up when we needed to and did this for ourselves. we do not owe anyone a gold medal, we are WINNERS in our hearts.”
Biles, 24, came to Tokyo as arguably the face of the Games, also has withdrawn from Thursday’s all-around competition to focus on her mental well-being.
She removed herself from the team final Tuesday after one rotation because she felt she wasn’t mentally ready.
When she returned, she took off her bar grips, hugged teammates Lee, Grace McCallum and Jordan Chiles and turned into the team’s head cheerleader as the US claimed silver behind the Russian Olympic Committee.
Lee’s family celebrated her performance during an early morning watch party from Minnesota on Tuesday.
“Even though we can’t go and support her in person, I’m glad that we could share with the world,” her dad John Lee told WCCO in Minnesota. “We’re just all so happy, we cheered her on. We had the full house so we were pretty loud.”
He said his daughter, who placed second behind Biles in the national championships, almost didn’t go the Tokyo because he was in surgery. He was partially paralyzed after falling from a ladder in 2019.
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“Her and her coach came over and I woke up and said, ‘You worked so hard for it, just go,’” John said. “Sunisa, she’s very persistent. Whatever she sets her mind to, she’ll go for it.”
Jade Carey, who finished ninth in qualifying, will take Biles’ place in the individual all-around.
Carey initially did not qualify because she was the third-ranking American behind Biles and Lee. International Gymnastics Federation rules limit countries to two athletes per event in the finals.
The organization said Biles will be evaluated daily before deciding if she will participate in next week’s individual events. She qualified for the finals on all four apparatuses.
With Post wires