American News Jul 28, 2021 2:21 PM EST

'We do not owe anyone a gold medal' says silver medal US gymnast Sunisa Lee

"We stepped up when we needed to and did this for ourselves. We do not owe anyone a gold medal, we are WINNERS in our hearts," the 18-year-old added.

'We do not owe anyone a gold medal' says silver medal US gymnast Sunisa Lee
Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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In the wake of gymnastics superstar Simone Biles' withdrawal from competition, fellow team mate Sunisa Lee expressed her support for Biles, as well as defended the team's silver medal finish during the Olympics team competition by stating they "do not owe anyone a gold medal."

On Tuesday night, Lee tweeted that she has "never been prouder to be apart of such an amazing team with an amazing group of girls."

"We stepped up when we needed to and did this for ourselves. We do not owe anyone a gold medal, we are WINNERS in our hearts," the 18-year-old added.

Lee's family celebrated on Tuesday her performance and medal placing during an early morning watch party from Minnesota.

"Even though we can't go and support her in person, I'm glad that we could share with the world," John Lee, Lee's father, told WCCO in Minnesota. "We're just all so happy, we cheered her on. We had the full house so we were pretty loud."

He added that Lee almost didn't go to the Olympics in Tokyo after placing second behind Biles in the national championships because her father was in surgery. According to the New York Post, he was paralyzed in 2019 after falling from a ladder.

"Her and her coach came over and I woke up and said, 'You worked so hard for it, just go,'" John said. "Sunisa, she's very persistent. Whatever she sets her mind to, she'll go for it."

Biles withdrew herself from the team final on Tuesday after feeling she was mentally unprepared. She has also withdrawn from Thursday's All Around competition to continue to focus on her mental wellbeing.

The US team claimed a silver medal behind the Russian team.

Jade Carey will be taking Biles' place in the individual all-around competition after finishing ninth in qualifying.

Carey reportedly did not initially qualify because she was the third-ranking American behind Biles and Lee. The IGF, International Gymnastics Federation, limits participants from each country to two in the finals.

Biles' will have daily evaluations to determine whether she will participate in next week's individual events, for which she qualified in all four events.

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