Where is Kerri Strug now? Simone Biles compared with 1996 gold winner after Olympics exit

Strug offered support to Biles, who quit the Tokyo Olympics on grounds of mental health amidst social media backlash


                            Where is Kerri Strug now? Simone Biles compared with 1996 gold winner after Olympics exit
Kerri Strug after injuring her ankle at the 1996 Olympics (L) and Simone Biles at the Tokyo Olympics (Mike Powell /Allsport, Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

As soon as the actual reason behind Simone Biles' Tokyo Olympics exit was revealed, Twitter erupted into a slam fest, comparing the four-time gold medalist to legendary gymnast Kerri Strug. In the 1996 Olympics, Strug had performed on the vault with an injured ankle to bag the US a gold medal, which eventually resulted in a broken leg. So when it was revealed that Biles had actually pulled out of the competition due to excessive pressure on her mental health, people resorted to comparing her to Strug, who brought glory to the US despite a broken leg.

The Internet's fury at Biles exiting the Olympics seemed uncalled for considering Strug herself offered her support for the 24-year-old gymnast. But that's not all Strug has been up to on social media these days. Sometimes the mother of two shares adorable photos of her family, and at other times, she shares her historic journey at the 1996 Olympics among other things.

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Where is Kerri Strug now?

The gymnast from Tucson, Arizona is a two time Olympian and gold medalist who was the youngest athlete at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, aged just 14. Four years later, at 18, Strug competed in the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgia, where she injured herself on her first vault. Strug fell at the landing and ended up injuring her ankle, before going at the vault a second time, this time sticking the landing. Strug immediately collapsed in pain and it was reported she had broken her ankle. But she had managed to score USA a gold medal - a feat that has been long debated as a toxic subculture of sporting events. 

Strug retired from gymnastics shortly after competing in the 1996 games. Through college, she worked briefly as a team manager before working as an elementary school teacher in California. Strug moved to Washington, DC in 2003 and worked as a staff assistant with the White House Office of Presidential Student Correspondence. She also worked for the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention staff as a presidential appointee in 2005, and pursued an active interest in running marathons.



 

Strug recently also accepted the Capital One Cup on behalf of Stanford Athletics. She is also on Instagram under the username @kerristrug96 and brags of over 11,000 followers on the platform. Her account is sprinkled with photos of her husband, Robert Fischer - an attorney she married in 2010. Together the two have two beautiful children - a son called Tyler and a daughter, Alana, whose photos also make it to Strug's Instagram account often.

On Twitter, Strug is just shy of 20,000 followers, and often expresses support for contemporary gymnasts. Shortly after Biles revealed the reason behind her exit from the Olympics, Strug tweeted to her, writing: "Sending love to you @Simone_Biles -Team UNITED States of America." Strug also showed support for Team USA who bagged a silver medal in team competition after Biles pulled out on July 27. But social media is still not convinced that Biles's exit was justified. 

Simone Biles of Team United States supports her team mates by carrying their chalk after pulling out after the vault during the Women's Team Final on day four on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Conservative commentator Clay Travis compared the two gymnasts, tweeting: "In 1996 Kerri Strug landed a one foot vault to win the US gold. In 2020 Simone Biles pulled herself out of competition because of mental issues and her team won silver. Debate, discuss." Other users took to Twitter to remind everyone "Kerri Strug didn’t quit." Writer Chris Buskirk also compared the two, tweeting: "In 1996 Kerri Strug went back out on the mats for the finals & had a spectacular performance despite a severely injured ankle. She did it because it was the only way Team USA had a chance at Gold. Due to her effort, Team USA won Gold. Amazing grit. The great ones find a way."

But for every negative diss thrown Biles' way, many on social media came out in her support even stronger. Some noted the toxicity in forcing Strug to go on the vault a second time, while others called both hers and Biles' decisions courageous. One user ended the argument with: "So many people comparing Simone Biles to Kerri Strug, as if athletes should put the audience's vicarious thrill for a medal over their own life and health. What Kerri did was be forced into a career-ending injury (she retired at 18) for a medal the US had already won."