"This has been our dream forever," she said. "... He always told me if I win the gold medal, he would come out on the ground and do a backflip. It's sad that he can't be here, but this is our dream and this our medal."
"We both worked for this. He sacrificed everything to put me in gymnastics. Both my parents really have," Suni continued of John and her mother, Yeev. "This is my family's medal, my medal. My coach's medal. He doesn't get a medal, so I'm dedicating it to all of them."
Though he had yet to speak to Suni, 18, John guessed she'd likewise be speechless by her accomplishment.
"I don’t think she can have any words to [this] express, either," he said. "I could see it in her eyes that she was crying, so I know she’s excited and happy and we’re so proud of her."
Suni's dad's guess about her reaction was correct, with the athlete telling Today, "This is a crazy experience. Like, it doesn't even feel like real life. I'm going to be like, 'Oh my gosh, am I an Olympic gold medalist?! No!'"
John has long supported Suni's gymnastics career, even building her a beam at their home when he could not afford to buy her one. "That beam is still here," he said. "I'm glad that I built her that beam."
Prior to her win, Suni opened up about her dad's encouragement in a video posted by NBC Olympics.
"My dad was really always the person who'd bring me to [the] gym," she said. "If I was having a rough practice, and even at competitions, he'd give me pep talks, and just make me feel better about myself."
"My dad has been through the whole journey with me and the Olympics was like our dream." ❤️
That support carried into 2019, when John fell and was paralyzed from the chest down, shortly before the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships. Though Suni didn't want to go and compete, her dad encouraged her to do just that.
After placing second in that competition behind Simone Biles, the Olympics became the goal for both Suni and John.
"My dad's been through the whole journey with me and the Olympics was like our dream," she said.
That dream was realized Thursday, and, in a video shared to Twitter, Suni's family could not have been more excited when she came out victorious.
"The people I do it all for," Suni tweeted alongside the video. "I LOVE YOU ALL."
Following her gold medal win on Thursday, John told Today that, when he does get a chance to speak to Suni, he plans "to tell her I’m so proud of her."
Suni's win came after her teammate, Simone, withdrew from both the team and all-around competitions. Simone later told Hoda Kotb, "Physically, I feel good, I'm in shape. Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment."
After Simone's decision, USA Gymnastics praised the athlete for her "bravery in prioritizing her well-being." It is currently unclear if Simone will compete in the individual event finals, which will take place next week.
"I want to tell her team that no matter what, you all support her," John said. "And I want to tell Simone that she truly is the GOAT because she let my baby girl bring the gold medal."
As for Suni, who, along with Team USA, won a silver medal earlier in the week, she's just trying to take it all in.
"The silver medal yesterday is something we're so proud of and now this one, I'm just, like, super proud," she told Today. "I didn't think I would be here ever, but this is a dream come true and I've worked so hard for it."