And One For the Team
This story could take up pages and pages but we will keep it short. You can watch the Video on You Tube. What a hero.
Kerri Strugg was one of the Fantastic 7 on the American Women's Gymnastics Olympic Team. In the summer of 1996 Kerri took her first team vault. She falls short rotated and fell on her hindside and sat down instead of sticking the landing.
Everyone noticed her limping as she got up. She was trying to shake it off anticipating she would probably want to vault again. Perhaps keeping the pride up. She should not have done what she was about to do.
All watching were sure she couldn't vault again. American's had fallen 3 times already including Kerri on this Vault which is so out of her norm! Everyone is thinking it would be silver medals and the gold would go to the Russians.
The coaches couldn't figure out if that last vault was enough to win the gold. They only had 30 seconds to decide if she needed to do a second vault. She needed a 9.493 (according to the television crew's score keeping.)
She was given a 9.162 on the first vault she had just fallen on. The coaches requested that she do the vault again, for the gold, to try to up the score.
Kerri did not show the any level of pain she was in and without hesitation she signaled with her arm in the air that she was ready to vault again.
She ran like the wind as if nothing was wrong, she hit the vault perfectly, she was launced so high that she took full control of her landing. She stuck the landing with both feet... Best vault of these Olympics. She then honored the judges with hands in the air but immediately lifting her left leg off the mat turning to honor and salute the audience and judges on one leg. She then turned to walk to the team and fell in agony.
The jump was perfect. She fell to the mat trying to scoot to her team but the pain over took her. Only God and the advent of adrenaline could have sanctioned such perfection in sportsmanship to be in pain and have enough grace and dignity to salute and honor the crowd.
Tearing in pain, trying to communicate with her face, grimacing that she was really hurt and needed assistance. It seemed like an eternity for the trainers to get to her. The judges gave her a score of 9.712 which annihalated the first vault score and put the whole team over the top to win the gold.
Coach Bella carried Kerri to the podium to stand with the team and receive the Olympic Gold Medal. It was such an heart felt action to witness. Everyone had thought she was out. But Not Ms. Kerri Strugg! No sir, she came back to "stick" the landing while hurt on her second vault and now there she was so emotionally infused with the moment receiving the gold medal with her team that she could not stop tears and deep heaves of selfless emotion. Evenso, she had the poise and grace of a ballerina.
Kerri Strug became an overnight sensation. Of course she did. Just getting to the Olympics was a great sacrifice with all dues paid in full. She was on the front pages of Newspapers around the World; Not to mention the fact that she became the darling of the international, the U.S. and the Arizona media.
The video is painful to watch but the passion and resolve is brilliant to experience again. What an amazing sportswoman and only 18 years old! Sacrificing her body for the hopes and dreams of the Fantastic 7. Hooyah!
Kerri was raised in Tucson. Her Olympic preparation and competition took her away, but like all the others she will be back. Arizona is the land of courage. Kerri is the exponential of courage.
Kerri Strug works for the Justice Department of the United States, in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention sector. Of course we will probably see her at every Olympics that allows women's gymnastics during her lifetime amd perhaps beyond. What a great life story to review and tell the kids.
It was tough to do and some would say it was really impossible yet, it was done. ,,,And the team of seven became one.
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