Olympic gold shines on Hmong community

By Per Peterson

Kou Thao
Suni Lee

After one of the most popular U.S. gymnasts ever made headlines last week for her decision not to compete, one of her teammates grabbed a much different spotlight.

Eighteen-year-old Suni Lee, the first Hmong-American Olympian, became the first Asian-American to capture what is widely considered the most coveted medal in gymnastics by capturing gold in the all-around.

Lee’s championship has made not only the country and her home state of Minnesota proud, it has done even more for the Hmong community, including Kou Thao, who is Tracy’s first Hmong city councilman.

“I think it is a big deal in our community,” Thao said. “Whenever you are the first to do something, it’s a big deal, no matter who you are, or what color you are. It’s powerful.”

Thao said what Lee did last week goes beyond just the Hmong community.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.