Have you ever heard of the Olympic Games? The Olympics is a huge sporting event that happens once every two years, where countries from all over the world come together in one place to compete. It starts off with a big parade and is an exciting time for everyone in the world. A young girl named Kerri Strugg was one of the Olympians who competed in the games.
Kerri was born in Tucson, Arizona and started taking gymnastic classes when she was only 3 years old. She went to gymnastic practice very often and worked very hard at improving her skills. It wasn’t always easy, but she loved gymnastics and wanted to be very good at it. She loved swinging on the bars and doing cartwheels and flips on the mats. And by the time she was 8, Kerri was competing against other gymnasts. Soon after this she started practicing very seriously with a special coach so she could go on to the great Olympics games. Her family even decided to move so she could practice with the best coach. It probably wasn’t easy moving schools, having to make new friends, but she was determined to reach her goal.
When Kerri was only 14 she went to her first Olympics in Barcelona Spain. She was the youngest girl on the team and got to fly far across the ocean with the rest of her team. At the Olympics they worked very hard and did their best and ended up winning a Bronze Medal — which is a very great award, but it is 3rd place. More than anything she wanted to win a Gold Medal. But for many years the Gold Medal in gymnastics was won by the Russian and Romanian teams, who were very good.
In between Olympics, Kerri continued to practice every day. She continued to learn more and build stronger muscles and improve until she could be the best gymnast she could be. There were times she fell and got hurt and it was hard to get back up, but she had a goal in mind and kept going. One time she was swinging around a bar and hit another bar and it hurt her so badly she had to go to the hospital. It took a long time for her to train her body so she could compete again, but nothing stopped Kerri.
Around this time her coach from the first Olympics, Bela Karolyi, started to work with her again. She continued to do well in other competitions, preparing for the Olympics. But finally the Summer Olympic Games came again. This time it was in Atlanta Georgia, and Kerri joined her team of other gymnasts who became known as the Magnificent Seven. When Kerri got to the Olympics, she saw the Russian gymnasts and remembered how good they were. They always seemed to win and Kerri and her friends wanted the Gold Medal so badly.
When the games began, the Russian gymnasts were doing very well. They had also trained very hard and also wanted the Gold Medal. For many days the Russians were receiving higher scores and Kerri and her team wondered if they could win. On the last day it was Kerri’s turn and she ran as fast as she could across the mat, did a cartwheel, then a back-handspring and flipped several times and landed on the mat, but her feet didn’t land right and she heard a “snap!” Then she fell and her ankle hurt very badly. She wanted to cry, but held it in and limped off the mat.
By this time the score was very close and she would have to do a flip one more time if she wanted her team to win the Gold Medal. But her foot hurt and she didn’t know if she could do it.
“You can do it!” her coach, Bela said to her. “You can do it.” Everyone was cheering her on. They believed she could do it again, even though she was in so much pain.
When it was her turn, Kerri took a deep breath, tried to forget the pain in her foot, and started at the beginning of the mat. She wanted to win so much. She knew she could do it. She heard the crowds cheering. She started running even though her foot hurt. She did another cartwheel and back hand spring and many flips. When she came down on the mat she landed with both feet! It was amazing! The crowd cheered wildly! She had done it! With her hurt ankle she had done the flip and landed on both feet! The judges gave her a very good score.
But this was all she could give and after raising her arms to the crowd and the judges, she fell down. Her coaches ran to her side, because they could see she was hurt. She was taken to the hospital so they could bandage her leg.
On the final day of the Olympics Kerri was carried out to the crowd by her coach, Bela, with her bandaged leg, and there she and her team listened to the Star Spangled Banner, America’s song as they received Gold Medals. After all of their practice and hard work their dreams had come true!
This was Kerri’s last Olympic Games, but as she got older she went on to do other good things that weren’t in the news, but still important. She became an ice skater and also finished college. Kerri then went on to teach elementary school in California and later got married and became a mom to two kids.
Like Kerri, when we have goals we can work toward them. Every day we may need to do something to make them happen. We can dream and dream, but in order for those dreams to become true we have to do something about them, even if they are small. What you do doesn’t always have to be in the news or make you famous, but if it’s improving yourself or helping others around you, that is what is most important.