Kerri Strug

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Kerri Strug : biography

November 19, 1977 –

Strug is Jewish.http://www.hillel.org/about/news/2006/sep/strug_2006sep20.htm

Career, pre-1996 Olympics

Strug began competing in gymnastics at the age of eight. Her sister Lisa was already competing in gymnastics at the time that Strug was born. Strug was trained by American coach Jim Gault until January 1991, when she moved to Romanian coach Béla Károlyi. At that time, she also joined the United States National Team. In 1992, at age 14, she won a team bronze medal at the Barcelona Olympics, at which she was the youngest member of the entire U.S. team. Throughout the Team Compulsories and Optionals, she and Kim Zmeskal competed for the final US available spot to compete in the all-around. She was eventually edged out by Zmeskal, with Shannon Miller and Betty Okino as the other two American gymnasts to qualify for the all-around.

Coach Béla Károlyi retired after the 1992 Games, leaving Strug to decide whether to continue gymnastics with a different coach or quit. Strug chose to move to Edmond, Oklahoma to train under the coaching of Steve Nunno at the Dynamo Gymnastics Club, where she trained with Shannon Miller. There, she struggled with severe weight loss and a serious injury to her stomach.

At the 1993 Nationals, Strug placed 3rd in the all-around, 2nd on the uneven bars, and 3rd on floor exercise.http://www.gymn-forum.com/results/usnat-results.html She completed the Yurchenko ½ vault. However, she had a weak second vault and did not medal in that event. After this competition, Strug left Edmond to return home to Tucson, Arizona where she trained with Arthur Akopian, who flew in from California to train her, with the assistance of Jim Gault. Gault was Strug’s coach when she started gymnastics at age 3.

While performing the compulsory uneven bars set in 1994, she pinged off the bar, subsequently releasing too early to be able to make the transition to low bar. She lost control and flew off the high bar backwards, landing in a twisted position on her side beneath the low bar. She was carried out of the gym on a stretcher and was taken to Desert Regional Hospital. The injury turned out to be a badly pulled back muscle, which required extensive rehabilitation. She recovered in time for the 1994 World Championships.

In 1995, Strug graduated from Green Fields Country Day School in Tucson, Arizona. Eventually, the coaching arrangement with Gault/Akopian became untenable as Gault was restricted in his coaching by NCAA recruiting rules. Strug once again left home, in July 1995, to train at Aerials Gymnastics in Colorado Springs, Colorado with Tom and Lori Forster. Later that year, at the 1995 Nationals, Strug placed 5th in the AA (All-Around competition) and came in 3rd on the UB (Uneven Bars). At the 1995 World Championships, she was a member of the bronze medal-winning U.S. team, and she placed 7th in the AA.

She trained with the Forsters from July 1995 until December 1995, when Béla Károlyi came out of retirement. She moved back to Houston to train with Károlyi in preparation for the 1996 Olympics. She beat the competition at the 1996 American Cup in the AA by almost 0.5 points, which was a huge margin under the old scoring system. She also placed 1st on FX (Floor Exercises) and BB (Balance Beam) and 2nd on V (Vault) and UB in the event finals. At the 1996 U.S. Nationals, Strug placed 5th in the AA and came in 2nd on both vault and floor.

Professional career and college

Shortly after her feat, Strug participated in the Ice Capades and Disney’s World On Ice, then announced her retirement and enrolled in UCLA where she was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. As a professional, she could not compete in NCAA gymnastics events, so she worked for a time as team manager instead, a behind the scenes role. She later transferred to Stanford University where she earned a Master’s degree in Sociology. Strug also took part in a Semester at Sea in the Fall of 2000. "Semester at Sea Alumni"

She is well known for her cameo on Beverly Hills, 90210.

After gymnastics

After graduation, Strug worked as an elementary school teacher at Tom Matsumoto Elementary School in San Jose, CA before moving to Washington, D.C. in 2003.

She worked as a staff assistant with the U.S. Office of Presidential Student Correspondence, moved to a job at the General Counsel in the Treasury Department, and in March 2005, joined the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention staff as a presidential appointee. Strug has also been an active marathon runner, having run marathons in Houston, New York, Boston and Chicago.

During the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Strug was a correspondent for Yahoo! in artistic gymnastics. In 2008, she appeared in a television commercial for the Zaxby’s restaurant chain. Also in 2008, her history-making ordeal at the 1996 Olympic games was featured in a commercial, narrated by actor Morgan Freeman for the "Go World" campaign.