Kerri's Last Vault

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In the summer of 1996, millions of eyes were glued to the little ladies wearing red, white, and blue as they attempted to do what no one from America had done before: bring home the team gold for the women's gymnastics team at the summer Olympics. It seemed that it had come down to the very last vault. Everyone held their breath as they watched the United States' last chance limp to the start of runway after a disastrous first attempt on the apparatus. Fear and pain were etched into her face as she raised her right arm and sprinted towards the vault. Time stood still as she twisted through the air. The young gymnast's name was Kerri Strug. Kerri's relationships, behaviors, and decisions throughout her life allowed her to achieve many things and to take action in the most adverse and demanding situation of her life, her second vault at the 1996 Summer Olympics (Parrillo n.pag).

Kerri Strug is remembered today for her performance at the 1996 Summer Olympics, but very few people know the rest of her story. Kerri was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. The Strugs were a family of five, and Kerri was the youngest. She had both an older brother and an older sister. Although Kerri had many outstanding accomplishments as a gymnast, her vault on July 23, 1996, earned her a place in gymnastics’ history. Kerri was limping because on her first attempt she fell and sprained her left ankle. After she finished somersaulting through the air, Kerri stuck the landing on one foot and then collapsed in tears. Kerri’s story is one of great courage (“Heart” 12).

Throughout Kerri’s journey, she had several significant relationships that influenced who she was as a person. One of these relationships was with her parents, Burt and Melanie Strug (“Profil...

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...the pressure of those moments will follow me the rest of my life…When Kerri is making the final vault, I am thinking, One legged, no legged, just stay there. And bless her heart, she did it” (Jenkins 39). Kerri landed square, desperately trying to keep the weight off of her left foot. She hopped on one foot to acknowledge the judges and then collapsed in a heap of tears and frustration. The rest was a blur. America cheered as Bela carried her to the stand to receive her gold. There were so many emotions playing across her face as the national anthem played: pain, happiness, and a deep sadness because her injury would end her Olympic experience (Parillo n.pag). Kerri’s bravery acts as a symbol to all human beings. If a four foot ten, one hundred pound girl can carry the weight of an entire nation on only one ankle, then who’s to say that anything is impossible?
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