Gymnast Sunisa Lee inspires young women in Madison

Sunisa Lee of the United States trains on vault for artistic gymnastics at Ariake Gymnastics...
Sunisa Lee of the United States trains on vault for artistic gymnastics at Ariake Gymnastics Centre venue ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)(Ashley Landis | AP)
Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 6:25 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Sunisa Lee is making Olympic history as the first Hmong American to make the team.

She’s making a huge impact on young women in the Madison area.

Ani Xiong and Ava Xiong are volunteers at the Hmong Institute in the Madison area. The 14-year-olds spend their free time here, volunteering, playing games and teaching younger students how to read, write and speak Hmong.

With their family heritage so close to heart, watching Lee become the first Hmong American gymnast gives Ani a sense of Pride.

“I think it’s amazing what she’s doing,” Ani Xiong said. “I think it’s inspiring, because when people look at the Hmong community they don’t think ‘the Olympics’ or of ‘gymnasts,’ so it’s great to see someone in the Hmong community who has done that and can set goals for younger people.”

It hits home for Ava Xiong, who was a gymnast for seven years

“It makes me proud,” Ava Xiong said. “If something seems really hard, I’ll think of her and try to do my best.” Watching Lee accomplish her goals has young women like Ava and Ani making plans for bigger dreams of their own.

“Her story is very inspiring to me, because even though I’m not into gymnastics, it makes me want to push myself further to my fullest extent, in life,” Ani said.

“We can do anything, it is possible.” Ava said.

Lee and the rest of the USA women’s gymnastics team begin competition Saturday.

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