(1977 - )
Kerri Strugs heroic performance at the 1996 Olympic
Games insured the United States first-ever team gold medal in
Womens Gymnastics. She was recipient of the 1996 Olympic Spirit
Strug participated in five World Championships, winning
Team silver medals in 1991 (at age of 13) and 1994, and a team bronze
in 1995. At the 1992 Olympic Games, she won a bronze medal in team combined
exercises. From 1991 until retiring as an amateur following the 1996
Olympics, she was coached by Bela and Martha Karolyi,
The diminutive 49, 88-pound American gave
the Olympic Games one of its memorable moments on July 23, 1996. As
the final U.S. performer in the vault event and the U.S. Womens
Team on the brink of capturing its first-ever gymnastics gold medal,
U.S. coaches and Olympic media estimated that the American team needed
points only Kerri could provide in her final set of vaults to give the
Yanks the championship.
But, in her first vault, the 17-year old Arizonan fell and suffered
torn ligaments and a third degree sprain in her left ankle. In severe
pain and barely able to walk, she consulted with coach Bela Karolyi,
then opted to attempt her second (final) vault. Fellow competitors,
arena spectators, and a massive world TV audience held its collective
breath as Strug readied herself, then sprinted towards the vault apparatus.
She was virtually flawless, nailing a near perfect landing. The gold
medal in Womens Gymnastics-Team belonged to the United States.
A member of the U.S. Senior Gymnastics Team from 1991 to 1997, specializing
in Floor Exercises and Uneven Bars, Strug won her first U.S. national
title in the All-Around event in 1989 at American Classic in Oakland,
CA. In 1991, she was #1 in the Vault and third in All-Around at the
U.S. Championships. She would go on to finish #1, #2 or #3individual
or teamin virtually every U.S. national and international
competition she entered for the next five years.
Jewish Sports Hall of Fame