After a tragic fall during a performance that left both her knees dislocated, a star gymnast is prematurely retiring from her athletic career.
On April 5, at the Baton Rouge Regional meet, 22-year-old Auburn University gymnast Samantha Cerio was attempting a handspring double front flip with a blind landing when she landed incorrectly, suffering serious injuries that left her screaming in pain. Following the fall, Cerio was removed from the meet on a stretcher.
Addressing the fall, Auburn coach Jeff Graba told Nola.com that “it was pretty tough to watch,” but added that Cerio “is a trouper.” Though Louisiana State University coach D-D Breaux didn’t see the fall happen live, she said the gruesome incident “was really upsetting.”
Two days later, in a lengthy and emotional Instagram post, Cerio announced that Friday was her last performance, and that “after 18 years, [she was] hanging up [her] grips and leaving the chalk behind.”
“I couldn’t be prouder of the person that gymnastics has made me to become,” she wrote. “It may not have ended the way I had planned, but nothing ever goes as planned.”
Though original reports suggested that Cerio had broken both legs, Graba announced via Twitter statement on April 8 that she had instead dislocated both her knees and torn multiple ligaments, and that she was scheduled to undergo surgery that day. Then, nearly 24 hours later, Graba updated his followers that the procedure had been an “extreme success.”
“We know the road for full healing is going to be a long and difficult one, but we are confident that she’ll be able to make a complete recovery,” he tweeted.
Just days after the tragic fall, Cerio asked people to stop sharing the video of her injury, saying on Twitter, “My pain is not your entertainment.” But on Monday, the gymnast took the opportunity to open up about her injury, saying on Today that one of her first thoughts upon landing was, Oh shoot, what just happened?
“When I had landed that one, I felt like something was a little wrong, and I thought I had just hyperextended my knees until I looked down and that wasn’t the case,” she said. “When I saw what happened, that’s when the pain kind of started to set in and it got worse.”
Even though the fall derailed her career, Cerio is admirably optimistic about future.
“I’m really excited just because I have so many positive things coming up,” she said. “This is a small setback.”
This post has been updated.