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12 Nov, 2021 12:49

‘I just let it happen’: Olympic gymnastics champ claims she was pepper-sprayed in racist attack

‘I just let it happen’: Olympic gymnastics champ claims she was pepper-sprayed in racist attack

Olympic gymnastics queen Suni Lee has revealed she was sprayed with pepper and subjected to racial slurs while waiting for an Uber with friends after a night out.

Tokyo 2020 all-around champion Lee made history at the Games this summer by becoming the first Hmong American Olympic gymnast, returning to the US to a rapturous public homecoming.

The 2019 team world champion has now said that she suffered a sickening recent attack in which she was called "ching chong" by abusers who also told her group – all of Asian descent – to "go back to where they came from."

"I was so mad but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off," the 18-year-old star told Pop Sugar.

"I didn't do anything to them, and having the reputation, it's so hard because I didn't want to do anything that could get me into trouble. I just let it happen."

Lee added that one of the gang sprayed her arm with pepper spray as part of the troubling incident.

The daughter of a refugee to the US from Laos has also backed rival Simone Biles' calls for a greater acknowledgement and understanding of mental health issues.

Team USA superstar Biles withdrew from the heat Lee won gold in, and the pair embraced afterwards in front of the cameras.

"I definitely don't see myself as an Olympic gold medalist," Lee admitted. "It's crazy to think that. I still have a hard time letting it sink in.

"It's OK to feel down sometimes but what I've realized is that it's important to express your feelings and ask for help.

"In the past, I might have pushed on and not acknowledged the state of my mental health.

"But there's so much power in owning your feelings. It's not weakness, it's actually taking control."

The idea of being a cover girl for her interview with the outlet, Lee also confessed, seems "insane" to her.

She described the accompanying cover shoot, in which she posed in a shimmering gold dress, as "amazing".

"I seriously had the best time and I’m obsessed with how these came out," she told her following of more than 1.5 million on Instagram.

She is currently competing on hit reality TV show 'Dancing with the Stars' in the US.