The Story of Iconic American Olympic Gymnast Kerri Strug
Kerri Strug is best-known for one vault: a Yurchenko 1.5 twist she nearly stuck, on an injured ankle, to secure the U.S. team the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics.
But before that vault, Strug was a solid contributor for the U.S. at the 1992 games, an American Cup champ and a member of a world team every year from 1991 to 1995.
It’s no doubt Strug is a gymnastic legend. It’s been an interesting journey to get her there. Here are four fun facts about Strug:
1. The Barcelona Olympics
Strug was the youngest member of the women’s team in 1992 and helped the Americans win a bronze behind the former Soviet Union (called the Unified Team at this Olympics, due to the recent breakup of the USSR) and Romania. She placed 14th all-around in preliminaries but was fourth place among the U.S. gymnasts. Only three per country were allowed to advance to the all-around finals, so she did not qualify.
After the 1992 games, Strug’s coach Bela Karolyi announced his retirement and Strug went to several different gyms, including Dynamo Gymnastics, Shannon Miller’s club. Strug placed third at the 1993 U.S. nationals and made the floor finals at worlds that year, placing sixth.
In 1994, Strug suffered a scary back injury on a fall from the uneven bars but recovered in time to help the team win a silver medal at Worlds. In 1995, she earned a bronze as part of the U.S. team, and when Karolyi came out of retirement, she returned to his gym.
3. American Cup 1996
Strug earned her first major all-around title at the American Cup in 1996. She bested Svetlana Boguinskaya and Oksana Chusovitina to take the top spot, tying for the individual event titles on beam and floor as well.
4. The Atlanta Olympics
Strug was one of the several veterans on the 1996 U.S. Olympic team: Shannon Miller and Dominique Dawes had competed at the ’92 games, and Amanda Borden was an alternate that year. The team was a favorite to win gold, but Russia and Romania were expected to provide stiff competition.
Russia led after compulsories, but the U.S. pulled into the lead early in options and looked like they’d win it. In the last rotation, however, Dominique Moceanu fell on both of her vaults, and Strug fell on her first.
Strug landed her second vault despite an ankle injury and ensured the U.S. team its first gold ever in women’s gymnastics. Strug’s ankle was too injured for her to compete in the all-around, vault and floor finals, but she became the face of the Atlanta Games.
Strug was born on Nov. 19, 1977, to Burt and Melanie Strug. She trained with Bela and Martha Karolyi most of her elite career, only training with other coaches when Bela Karolyi temporarily retired.
After the Olympics, Strug attended UCLA, before transferring to Stanford University. She worked as a project manager for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in Washington, D.C., and married Robert Fischer, an attorney, on April 25, 2010. Former teammate Moceanu attended the wedding, held in Tucson, Arizona.
Strug gave birth to a son, Tyler, on March 1, 2012, and to a daughter, Alayna Madaleine, on June 26, 2014.
- 1996 Olympic Games: 1st team; qualified to all-around, vault and floor finals but was unable to compete due to injury
- 1996 American Cup: 1st all-around; 2nd vault (tie); 2nd bars (tie); 1st beam (tie); 1st floor (tie)
- 1995 world championships: 3rd team; 7th all-around
- 1994 world championships (team): 2nd team
- 1993 world championships: 6th floor
- 1992 Olympic Games: 3rd team
- 1992 world championships: 5th vault; 7th bars
- 1991 world championships: 2nd team
- 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials: 2nd all-around
- 1996 U.S. nationals: 5th all-around; 2nd vault; 2nd floor
- 1995 U.S. nationals: 5th all-around; 3rd bars; 4th floor
- 1993 U.S. nationals: 3rd all-around; 4th vault; 2nd bars; 3rd floor
- 1992 Olympic Trials: 3rd all-around
- 1992 U.S. nationals: 2nd all-around; 1st vault; 3rd bars; 1st beam (tie); 2nd floor
- 1991 U.S. nationals: 3rd all-around; 1st vault; 3rd bars (tie); 4th beam; 4th floor