Where Is Kerri Strug Now? The "Magnificent Seven" Olympic Gymnast Has Been Busy Since Retiring From Competing
It's essentially impossible to separate stories of Olympic triumph from that of gymnast Kerri Strug who — only 18 at the time — became part of history when she stuck a seemingly impossible landing at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. But since that defining moment 20 years ago, Strug has led a relatively low-key life, leading many to wonder, where is Kerri Strug now? Despite the fact that this celebrated gymnast has largely remained out of the public eye since retiring, she's still very much an American hero. (Bustle has reached out to Kerri Strug for comment.)
First, let's establish the ambiance with a nostalgic stroll down memory lane. The year is 1996. The setting? The Atlanta Olympics. Tensions are high as the U.S. all-around women's gymnastics team — affectionately known as the Magnificent Seven — heads into the final rotation on the final day of team competition, squaring off against Russia. While the U.S. women hold a minor lead, the win is still within the Russians' reach. The first four U.S. gymnasts land their vaults ... but have trouble sticking the landings. Things start to look even bleaker for the Magnificent Seven when teammate Dominique Moceanu falls twice, winding up with sizable deductions. Strug is the last U.S. women's gymnast to take the vault. The pressure is on.
On her first attempt, Strug falls and appears to injure her ankle. She needs to nail her second vault if the U.S. team is going to pull this win out. Strug limps slightly to the runway, makes her second attempt — and miraculously sticks the landing before saluting the judges and then crumpling to the floor in pain. In what is now burned into the American memory, Strug is carried onto the podium to join her team in receiving the gold medal. It is later learned she suffered the second vault through a third-degree lateral sprain and tendon damage. The girl had serious moxie, y'all.
Cut to only three months later that same year, when Strug decided to retire from her career in gymnastics. After a hailstorm of publicity and appearances in everything from magazines to TV shows, she decided to enroll in college. She went on study at UCLA for two semesters before transferring to Stanford University; she has a Bachelor's degree in Communications and a Master's in Sociology. During her collegiate years, she pledged Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and did a Semester at Sea.
Upon graduating, Strug went on for a time to work as an elementary school teacher in San Jose, Calf. Perhaps needing an outlet for her patriotic spirit, though, Strug packed her bags and moved to our nation's capital. In Washington, D.C., she landed a job as a staff assistant with the White House Office of Presidential Student Correspondence. This, in turn, led to subsequent work within the Treasury Department and the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention — the latter of which she worked for in D.C. for around a decade before continuing her work for the Department from her current home base of Tuscon, Ariz. as a full-time remote worker.
As for Strug herself, she hasn't walked away from gymnastics entirely. In addition to penning a few books on the subject, she stays connected to the sport by booking occasional speaking engagements and public appearances. And, in July, she reunited with her Magnificent Seven teammates at the U.S. Olympic women's team trials in San Jose, Calif. In the meantime, if you're ever curious about this Olympic hero, just head to Twitter — her official profile is predictably (and enjoyably) peppy.
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