The first Hmong American to win a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics

“The first Hmong refugees arrived in Minnesota in 1975,” according to TeamUSA.org. “Today that population has grown to 80,000 people, its members now represented throughout business, government and culture in the North Star State. On Thursday, a daughter of that diaspora added a new milestone to the Hmong American story: Olympic champion.

“Sunisa Lee, an 18-year-old from St. Paul who goes by Suni, won the women’s gymnastics all-around gold medal, scoring 57.433 to hold off Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade by .135 and the Russian Olympic Committee’s Angelina Melnikova by .234 at Tokyo’s Ariake Gymnastics Centre. Fellow American Jade Carey placed eighth, scoring 54.199.

“With her win, Lee, the first Hmong American to make a U.S. Olympic Team, becomes the fifth American woman to win the Olympic all-around title in the past five tries. Combining the Olympics and world championships, a U.S. woman has now won every global all-around title since 2011.”

Memories of Hmong American agriculture

Sunisa Lee’s gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games reminded me of this: Though little known, Hmong American agriculture — much of it near Fresno — has long helped make California prosperous. (More than a third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of our fruits and nuts are grown in California). I remember that California’s Gold with Huell Howser, a favorite program, once highlighted this.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

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