Landing on My Feet: A Diary of Dreams


In this fascinating new autobiography, Kerri Strug comes to life as the brave young gymnast who struggled for years in the shadow of flashier athletes, then secured her place in the Olympic pantheon for her brilliant success under fire.
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In this fascinating new autobiography, Kerri Strug comes to life as the brave young gymnast who struggled for years in the shadow of flashier athletes, then secured her place in the Olympic pantheon for her brilliant success under fire.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780836237085
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/1/1997
  • Pages: 191
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.86 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Interviews & Essays

On Monday, November 10, welcomed Kerri Strug, author of LANDING ON MY FEET.

JainBN: Welcome, Kerri! We're thrilled you could leap into cyberspace tonight.

Kerri Strug: I'm excited to be doing this and promoting my new book!

JainBN: Great! Let's turn our attention to the many audience questions. You all set?

Kerri Strug: Yup!

Question: Do you have a lot more personal freedom now? How are you handling it?

Kerri Strug: Well, now I'm not just in the gym every day all day, but I'm stillvery busy doing all different things. I'm trying to take in everything I canand take in all my new opportunities and see where I want to go from here. I haven't had much free time since Atlanta -- I've been busy with school and traveling for the tour every weekend, in addition to interning, being in a sorority, and promoting my new book.

Question: Do you feel that the self-discipline and success you've achieved through gymnastics is serving you well as you grow and explore other areas of your life?

Kerri Strug: Definitely. The time-management skills and discipline, staying persistent and focused -- all those characteristics, all those things I can now transfer into everyday life.

Question: Are you still active in gymnastics in any way now? What is your relationship with the girls from the gold-winning team to this day?

Kerri Strug: Well, I'm on a 34-city tour with the girls, so I'm obviously still participating with them in gymnastics. I see them every weekend, so we're still together.

Question: Do you feel that the tight focus and sheltered life you've lived has ill-prepared you for the anarchic and grown-up world of college life?

Kerri Strug: In order to succeed in gymnastics, you have to sacrifice other areas of your life, and to me it's been well worth it. In the other areas I have to grow now, and it's been good for me. Life is full of different challenges and different phases

Question: Do you think you can be satisfied having future peak experiences in a more private way, or is it important to continue to achieve on a public stage? Why?

Kerri Strug: For me, I just like setting goals and achieving them, whether it's in my personal life or in front of the public. I've really enjoyed being in the spotlight this year. It's an opportunity I never thought I'd explore, but at the same time, I have other aspects in my life I'd like to [explore], too.

Question: Bela Karolyi is often touted as the best gymnastics coach in the world. As someone who has trained extensively with him, what makes him better than the rest?

Kerri Strug: Well, he's obviously produced more Olympic champions than any other gymnastics coach; his track record is unmatched. There's really no secret to his success -- he just demands a lot of hard work. His girls have a different level of confidence than most, and therefore perform better.

Question: What are your thoughts on female gymnasts who sacrifice their health via poor eating habits to create the ideal gymnast's body?

Kerri Strug: There's really no ideal gymnast's body; it's up to the individual to decide on that. I don't think it's wise to alter your health for a sport -- you need to balance the two. In gymnastics, you need a lot of energy to perform, and it's in your best interest to eat healthy.

Question: Your elder sister was also a gymnast, but she stopped competing because "she wanted to be a normal teenager." Why did your gymnastic goals differ from your sister's?

Kerri Strug: I think everyone is a little bit different. My sister's personality is much more outgoing than mine. Therefore when she started getting older, she developed outside interests.

Question: Hi Kerri, Betty here! Where can fans write to you and your other teammates for autographs?

Kerri Strug: Write USA Gymnastics, check my site on AOL, and Athlete Direct. There should be a post-office box you can write to.

Question: Tell us about your work with the Special Olympics.

Kerri Strug: I feel with the circumstances that happened in Atlanta, I can use my notoriety to make a difference. I get a lot of self-satisfaction knowing that I can help others who are less fortunate than myself, and I feel sports is a great way to help all individuals excel in life. The Special Olympics is a great program, and I'm glad to be affiliated with it.

Question: Do you ever regret not having been a normal teenager?

Kerri Strug: No, I realize that you can't have everything. I feel I have accomplished much more than the average teenager. I definitely had to work hard and sacrifice a lot, but it was well worth it.

Question: How many hours of training do you put in a week?

Kerri Strug: It really depends now, because my schedule is never the same. Sometimes I travel for a whole week, sometimes just the weekend. Gymnastics is a big part of my life. I enjoy training and try to whenever I can.

Question: Your book mentions the media's presentation of the women's gymnastics world -- you know, little girls pushed into competition with disregard to their health and development. As a seasoned veteran, what's your reaction to these indictments?

Kerri Strug: The circumstances for each individual are different. For me, gymnastics has been full of positive situations. It's not for everyone -- some people get carried away and lose perspective. Yet it's great for others. It's all in how you take it.

Question: It seems there were some bad vibes between you and the other members of the '96 team after the Olympics. Have those differences been resolved? Are you in touch with any of the team members?

Kerri Strug: Last year I did not tour with my teammates because I wanted to attend UCLA. I had already taken a year off from school to train for Atlanta and felt I needed to get back into academics. It seems that once you're away from school, it's easy to stay away. This year the tour is only on weekends; therefore, I have the best of both worlds I can go to school and also perform with them. It makes for a tight schedule, but it's manageable.

Question: What was the book-writing process like for you? Did you work with someone on it?

Kerri Strug: Yes, I worked with a sportswriter from Houston, Texas, named John Lopez. He was very familiar with me, so it was easy to talk with him; I felt comfortable in that aspect. I kept diaries from the time I moved away from home at age 13 through Atlanta. It was very easy to look back and recollect what happened through the years.

Question: What are you studying at UCLA? Have you pledged a sorority? What is it like being a typical college student after having competed at two Olympics before the age of 18?

Kerri Strug: Right now, I'm just taking general requirements. However, I hope to either pursue the communications field or broadcasting. Yes, I've pledged a sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta. College is a big change from my previous years. I have a lot more freedom and a lot of different things to do. Not everything revolves around gymnastics.

Question: When you were competing, who did you consider your role models?

Kerri Strug: At the age of six, I watched Mary Lou Retton win her gold medal and instantly fell in love with her. To this day, I still idolize her courage and energy and positive attitude. I hope to follow in her footsteps in public speaking and being a good role model.

Question: You often mention that you felt overshadowed by Kim Zmeskal at Bela's and Shannon Miller when you were training in Oklahoma. What was it like to be suddenly in the spotlight at the '96 Olympics?

Kerri Strug: It was definitely a change, something I didn't expect. I never did gymnastics to gain attention from others. I did it for myself. Yet it's nice for people to acknowledge your hard work and skill.

Question: After the '96 Olympics, your face kind of became an image of sportsmanship and courage (particularly after the covers of People and Sports Illustrated). Did you ever think that completing the second vault would make you an international hero?

Kerri Strug: Definitely not. To me, doing the vault was an obligation to the team. It was a team competition, and the other girls had done their part, and I had to do mine. In gymnastics, we are trained to do a skill or a routine until it's perfect, no matter how tired, upset, or bad you feel. You always finish a workout or event with a good performance. So Atlanta was no different. I was trained to do two vaults, so I had to do two vaults.

Question: If there was one thing in competitive career that you could go back and change, what would it be?

Kerri Strug: That's a good question. I've never though about it. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I always try to look forward, not back. Barcelona was not as positive an experience as I had hoped, yet I believe if I'd been successful there, I probably wouldn't have gone to Atlanta, therefore I don't know if I would have changed the results. Additionally, some of the World Championships didn't turn out the way I had hoped, yet all these setbacks made the accomplishment in Atlanta that much greater.

Question: Was the experience of competing twice at the Olympics worth the sacrifices you made (the injuries you sustained, the time spent living away from home, the dietary restrictions...)?

Kerri Strug: From my point of view, yes. I love the sport of gymnastics and wanted to reach my goals. You can't have your cake and eat it too. If you want to excel at something, whether it's sports, academics, a career, or a family, you're going to have to make some sacrifices. That's what life's all about.

Question: Where do you see yourself in 15 years? Would you ever consider becoming a gymnastics coach?

Kerri Strug: I hope in 15 years I have a family and am doing public speaking and television broadcasting or producing.

Question: Were you to have children, would you encourage them to become gymnasts? Why?

Kerri Strug: If my child wants to get involved in gymnastics, I will be supportive, yet I am not going to force them. I think it's important for a parent to encourage sports, because it's good to have an extracurricular activity after school. I believe sports can help a child learn about life. You learn to take responsibility for your actions, time-management skills, discipline, how to win and lose....

Question: Who was your favorite teammate on the 1996 USA championship team?

Kerri Strug: I like all the girls, for different reasons. Amy Chow and I have a lot in common, yet I was close to Dominique Moceanu because we trained together, and Amanda and Jaycie displayed a lot of personality and spunk.

Question: Kerri, I was just reading the little blurb about you in Teen, and I was wondering if helping coach a gymnastics team brings back any memories of your childhood, and if you enjoy coaching better than being the gymnast.

Kerri Strug: I definitely like performing gymnastics myself -- that's what I've been trained to do for almost 15 years. It's very different standing on the sidelines. I like being in control, and taking responsibility for my actions in the gym. You can't do that coaching.

Question: Who do you think will be the key gymnast for USA in the 2000 Olympics?

Kerri Strug: I really can't say right now. The 2000 Olympics are a long way away.... We'll just have to wait and see.

Question: Theatrics is such a major part of performing as a gymnast. Do you ever think about acting?

Kerri Strug: I've been fortunate enough to appear on many different television shows in the past year. It's been a lot of fun. I would love to do more, yet I realize I have a long way to go in that department. Maybe if I were to put as much time and focus into acting as gymnastics, I could be successful.

JainBN: Kerri, thanks so much for joining us this evening. Do you have any closing comments?

Kerri Strug: Thanks for being interested, and I appreciate everyone's support and kindness toward me.

JainBN: Again, Kerri, thanks so much, and congratulations. Please come again!

Kerri Strug: Thanks!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2005

    A very good book for gymnastics fans

    I loved the book and I would recommend it to gymnastics fans to read. I've been a fan of Kerri Strug for years. I liked reading the background on how she felt over the years being in the shadows of a famous gymnast and reaching the spotlight in the 1996 Olympics. Very well done book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2004

    Great book

    This book is great for gymnasts who feel like their at the bottom in the shadow of the best. It gives great encouragement to those kind of people. So keep on trying and work harder instead of giving up. Nothing takes no effort, so don't give up on something you love just because you get no recognition.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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