US Olympian Sunisa Lee says she was pepper-sprayed in racist attack

One person told Lee and her group of friends to "go back where they came from"

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Reuters file
Reuters file

Published: Fri 12 Nov 2021, 8:59 AM

US Olympic gold medallist Sunisa Lee has said she was pepper-sprayed in a racist attack in Los Angeles.

In an interview with Pop Sugar, the gymnast and the first US-Hmong Olympian said she and a group of friends were targeted while waiting for a ride a few weeks ago.

Lee told the magazine that she and her friends, all of Asian descent, were waiting for their Uber after a night out, when a car passed with people inside yelling ethnic slurs and telling them to "go back where they came from".

One person pepper-sprayed Lee's arm before the vehicle sped away.

"I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off," Lee told the magazine. "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."

The assault comes amid a dramatic rise in attacks on Asian Americans.


Lee - whose parents immigrated to the US from Laos - comes from St Paul, Minnesota. She vaulted onto the world stage last summer after the withdrawal of her teammate Simone Biles.

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