Suni Lee, an Olympic gold medalist, claims she was pepper-sprayed during a racist attack in her homeland of Minnesota.
The 18-year-old gymnast and her Asian-American friends were waiting for an Uber when a car drove past them, with people inside yelling racist obscenities.
Ms. Lee stated that one of the passengers in the car pepper-sprayed her arm before driving away. They hurled obscenities such as "ching chong" and told them to "return to where they came from," she said in a Wednesday interview with Pop Sugar.
Recalling the October incident, she stated, "I was enraged, but there was nothing I could do or control because they fled."
"I did nothing to them, and with my reputation, it's tough because I didn't want to do anything that would land me in hot water. "I simply allowed it to happen," the gymnast continued.
Ms. Lee stated that she immediately called her coach, Jess Graba, who came out to Los Angeles to be with her following the incident.
This is the first time a Hmong American has competed in the Olympics. She noted that she struggles to comprehend these heinous murders and speak on complex subjects such as racial injustice.
She discussed mental health and the support she received after coming forth about self-care in the tell-all interview.
"It's natural to feel unhappy at times, but I've learned that it's critical to communicate your thoughts and seek assistance. I may have pushed on in the past, oblivious to the state of my mental health. However, there is tremendous strength in owning your emotions. It is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of assertiveness," she explained.
Ms. Lee earned a gold medal in the women's all-around gymnastics event at the Tokyo Olympics. She replaced Simone Biles, who opted out of the team finals to focus on her mental health. "No one expected me to win a gold medal, and when I did, my life completely changed," she explained.
The athlete is presently competing on America's Dancing With the Stars reality show.
Since the pandemic began in 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes have risen dramatically. Physical attacks on Asians in the United States surged to 16.6 percent of all incidences in 2021, up from 10.8 percent the previous year.
President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan anti-Asian hate crime bill into law in May.