Kerri Strug – A Big Olympic Hero in a Tiny Package


In 1996, Kerri Strug was a tiny teenager with a shy personality. But when it came to gymnastics, Kerri was anything but shy. She was a dedicated athlete and a fierce competitor. And in the 1996 Olympics, Kerri showed a strength and determination that belied her small size.

It was the night of the women’s gymnastics team competition. For Kerri and her teammates, things were a bit shaky. They were performing well overall, but they had a few costly mistakes and injuries. So it all came down to the final competitor in the final event of vault – Kerri.

For her team to win the gold medal, she needed to get a near-perfect score. In 1996 gymnastics, you vaulted twice, and your final score was the better of the two you received. Kerri performed her first vault and, sadly, missed her landing. She had one more chance to get the score needed. But when Kerri arose from her missed landing, it was clear something was wrong.

Her ankle was badly hurt! Kerri limped back to the runway, determined to do her last vault. She ran down the runway, vaulted into the air, and stuck her landing! She then fell to the ground in pain, and her coaches rushed to her side. Moments later, the score came. Kerri had done it – her successful vault had earned her team the gold medal! By putting her own pain aside to do what she had to do for her team, Kerri inspired her team, her spectators, and the world!

This video shows Kerri’s amazing strength and determination as she performed her gold medal-winning vault despite a sprained ankle.

Additional Resources:

  • This video shows more of Kerri’s amazing gymnastic talent.

Topics for Discussion:

  • What qualities did Kerri show in putting aside her pain to help her team win the gold medal?
  • What can you learn from Kerri’s amazing act of strength and determination?

Take Action:

  • Do you have a goal that you’re struggling with? Find a way to push past your difficulty and succeed, just like Kerri did!
  • See Kerri’s website to learn about the charities she helps and how you can get involved in helping them too!

Teacher Features:

  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.


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