In our business and personal lives, we can find motivation from by people who overcome great difficulties to succeed. This 5 part series is focused on Olympic athletes who have endured injury, but persevered; facing their pain and not letting it deter them from their goals.
One Tough Teenager
The US women were on the verge of an historic win in the
team competition in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In the team competition, an
event dominated by the Russians for decades and never won by the United States,
the U.S. competed with the Russian, Romanian, and Ukrainian teams. The Russians
came into the team competition with a very narrow lead. The event came down to
the final rotation on the final day of the team competition, July 23, 1996.
Then the unthinkable happened: Dominique Moceanu, the
youngest member of the team, fell on both of her vaults. With just a slim lead
over the Russian team, it was essential that Kerri Strug, the final American
gymnast to nail her vault. But Strug fell too, injuring her ankle in the
In the time interval between her two vaults, Strug asked,
"Do we need this? Coach Béla Károlyi replied, "Kerri, we need you to
go one more time. We need you one more time for the gold. You can do
It was time for her
next vault. Strug limped slightly to the end of the runway and, ignoring her
injury, she ran down for another attempt. She landed the vault briefly on both
feet, almost instantly hopping onto only her good foot, saluting the judges,
assuring the Americans their first Olympic team gold. She then crumpled to her
knees in pain, requiring assistance off the landing platform.
Later, coach Károlyi carried her onto the medals podium to
join her team, after which she was treated at a hospital for a third-degree
lateral sprain and tendon damage.
NOTE: Due to her injury, Strug was unable to compete in the
individual all-around competition and event finals, despite having qualified
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