Kerri Strug, a member of the U.S. gymnastics team, had one of the most memorable performances in Olympic and, truly, sports history.
When her turn came to compete at the vault, the U.S. team was in the lead from Russia by .897. While typically that kind of lead in this setting would be enough to comfortably claim the gold, before Strug’s performance, Dominique Moceanu — one of the U.S.’s star gymnasts — fell twice dismounting the vault, registering a 9.20 which left the gold within Russia’s grasp.
Strug has said, “When Dom fell the first time, I thought, ‘No, I can’t believe it. She never falls,'” Strug would tell the media later. “Then she fell a second time, and it was like, ‘Forget this. This is a nightmare.’ My heart was beating like crazy, knowing that it was now up to me. I thought, ‘This is it, Kerri. You’ve done this vault a thousand times, so just go out and do it.'”
Her first attempt resulted in a 9.162 and a fractured left ankle. She had torn two ligaments in her ankle.
The U.S. Coach Bel Karolyi told her, “Kerri, we need you to go one more time. We need you one more time for the gold.”
Strug later told the media, “This is the Olympics. This is what you dream about from when you’re 5 years old. I wasn’t going to stop.”
She performed her second vault on a fractured ankle and scored a 9.712, ultimately winning the gold for the team… and for the United States.
This performance demonstrates an Olympic level of dedication to her craft. Here we are 20 years later still in awe of her incredible performance.