Kerri Strug : biography
Kerri Allyson Strug (born November 19, 1977) is a retired American gymnast from Tucson, Arizona. She was a member of the Magnificent Seven, the victorious all-around women's gymnastics team that represented the United States at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, and is best remembered for performing the vault despite having injured her ankle and for subsequently being carried to the podium by her coach, Béla Károlyi.
Strug participated in the 1996 Olympics as a member of the U.S. women's team, often referred to as the Magnificent Seven. After compulsories, Strug was ranked 9th overall and had placed high enough to qualify herself for the all-around. She posted the second highest score on floor exercise — but qualified first in floor exercise event finals after the team final and ahead of eventual FX Gold Medalist Lilia Podkopayeva — and 4th highest on vault, which would qualify her for event finals in her two strongest events. In the team competition, an event dominated by the Russians for decades and never won by the United States, the U.S. competed with the Russian, Romanian, and Ukrainian teams. The Russians came into the team competition with a very narrow lead. The event came down to the final rotation on the final day of the team competition, July 23, 1996.
Going into the final rotation, with the Russians on floor exercise and the U.S. on vault, the U.S. women held a commanding 0.897-point lead over the Russian team. At that point, it was possible for the Russians to take the gold if the U.S. women collapsed. The first four U.S. gymnasts landed their vaults, but struggled to land them cleanly, taking steps and hops. To add to the drama, Strug's teammate Dominique Moceanu fell twice, registering a poor score. Strug was the last to vault for the United States.
Strug under-rotated the landing of her first attempt, causing her to fall and damage her ankle. As a result, the attempt was awarded 9.162 points. Retrospectively, after a poor performance from the final Russian Roza Galieva on floor, Moceanu's score would have been sufficient to beat the Russians even if Strug had not performed a second vault, as the lowest score for each team was dropped. However, Galieva performed after Strug, and therefore Strug needed to land a second vault on her feet in order to mathematically clinch the gold.
In the time interval between Strug's two vaults, she asked, "Do we need this?" Károlyi replied, "Kerri, we need you to go one more time. We need you one more time for the gold. You can do it, you better do it." Strug thus limped slightly to the end of the runway for her second attempt. She landed the vault briefly on both feet, almost instantly hopping onto only her good foot, saluting the judges. She then collapsed onto her knees and needed assistance off the landing platform, to which sportscaster John Tesh commented, "Kerri Strug is hurt! She is hurt badly." The completed vault received score of 9.712, guaranteeing the Americans the gold medal. Károlyi carried her onto the medals podium to join her team, after which she was treated at a hospital for a third-degree lateral sprain and tendon damage. Due to her injury, she was unable to compete in the individual all-around competition and event finals, despite having qualified for both; so Moceanu was chosen to take her place in those events.
Strug became a national sports hero for her final vault, visiting President Bill Clinton, appearing at various television talk shows, making the cover of Sports Illustrated and appearing on a Wheaties cereal box with other team members. Actor Chris Kattan notably parodied her adolescent-sounding voice and appearance on Saturday Night Live (in a segment in which she appeared alongside him). ESPN's "This is SportsCenter" ad campaign poked good-natured fun at her injury with two ads featuring various ESPN workers carrying her around.
Strug married attorney Robert Fischer at the Skyline Country Club in Tucson, Arizona, on April 25, 2010.http://washingtonscene.thehill.com/in-the-know/36-news/2189-olympic-gold-medalist-kerri-strug-to-marry-lamar-smith-staffer On March 1, 2012, Strug gave birth to the couple's first son, Tyler William Fischer.
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