Published: Feb 14, 7:25a ET
Updated: Feb 14, 7:25a ET

Top Team USA Moment: Kerri Strug lands gold in 1996

Coach Bela Karolyi carries an injured yet triumphant Kerri Strug of the United States after she received her gold medal in the women's team gymnastics competition at the 1996 Olympic Games.
Coach Bela Karolyi carries an injured yet triumphant Kerri Strug of the United States after she received her gold medal in the women's team gymnastics competition at the 1996 Olympic Games.

Kerri Strug's heroics in helping the U.S. take the all-around women's gymnastics team title at the 1996 Olympics provided one of the most enduring memories of Atlanta, with photographs of the injured 18-year-old being carried to the medal podium by her coach Bela Karolyi making newspaper front pages around the world.

The diminutive Strug vaulted last of the five American gymnasts in the final rotation and her first effort was worth 9.137 points, which helped keep the U.S. in the lead ahead of the Russian favorites, who were competing for the first time as a separate country after the Soviet Union had dominated women's gymnastics for decades.

However, she landed badly, injuring her ankle, but to make mathematically certain of the gold medal, Strug - who had won a team bronze four years earlier in Barcelona - needed to do a second vault and make it a good one.

"Kerri, we need you to go one more time. We need you one more time for the gold. You can do it, you better do it," Karolyi famously told her.

Despite being in agony, she sprinted down the runway and executed an outstanding vault which earned a mark of 9.712 from the judges and guaranteed the U.S. a historic win.

Her injury was bad enough - after receiving her medal she had to be treated in hospital - that she couldn't compete in the individual all-around and vault finals in Atlanta but Strug ended up on the cover of Sports Illustrated and feted at President Bill Clinton's 50th birthday party.

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