An underdog moment is always the highlight of any competition. Many times we cheer for the dark horse. When the dark horse wins, we are surprised and very happy. We should be thankful for underdogs because they fill life with excitement and give us an adrenalin rush when they win a competition. An underdog moment inspires us to reach for the stars, like Don Quixote, and turns our impossible dreams into reality. When all the odds are stacked against underdogs, they work even harder to become champions.
The most memorable underdog moments are in the world of sports, especially in the Olympic games. Like most sports fans, I have my favorite underdog moment that took place during the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, Georgia. This unforgettable moment was when Keri Strug vaulted.
Before Keri, Dominique Moceanu, who was often compared to Nadia Comaneci, fell after vaulting two times. Keri Strug was the last one to vault. Unfortunately, she also had a bad landing on her first vault and fell. She asked her coach, Bela Karolyi, if she really had to do a second vault. Bella told her that she needed to do a second vault in order for the US team to get gold. He said that she needed to get a score of at least 9.6 on the vault.
Despite the fact that Keri was in pain, she still prepared to vault for a second time. Spectators were quite nervous, and many were dubious that Keri could still pull it off. Twisting and turning in the air with such grace, like a dancer, Keri made a fine landing on her good foot. She even had to hop, but it was remarkable. Then she collapsed, for she was in pain. She twisted her ankle, but the risk she took was well worth it. Keri’s vault earned a score of 9.712 securing the first gold ever for the US women’s gymnastics team. Keri’s vault made history and changed US women’s gymnastics for posterity.
After she was treated for her ankle injury, Karolyi carried Keri out and then she stood proudly with the rest of her team during the medal ceremony. The crowd roared and gave her a huge applause, for Keri’s underdog moment was one that sports aficionados would never ever forget.
Since the Russian gymnastics team was head in head with the US team, Karolyi thought that Keri had to do a second vault to secure gold for the US team, but he was wrong. He was an outstanding coach and taught his gymnasts to focus more on their individual performances. The truth is that the US women’s gymnastics team would have won the team gold, even if Keri did not vault again.
By performing a second vault, Keri showed her strength as a gymnast, and she became a hero. After the Olympic games, Keri received a heroic welcome that she certainly deserved and worked very hard to earn it.
At the age of three, Keri began her gymnastics career. Jim Gault was Keri’s first coach and later she trained with Bela Karloyi to prepare for the 1996 Summer Olympic games. Before entering the 1996 Olympics, Keri already had many distinctions. At the age of 14, she won a team bronze medal at the 1992 Summer Olympic games in Barcelona.
Even with all of her preparation, Keri probably would have never guessed that she would become famous for her vault performance. Keri’s team was called, “the Magnificent Seven.” By vaulting a second time with an ankle injury and landing well, she certainly proved that she was even more than magnificent. She became the hero of the US team and the crowds gave a thunderous applause.
As we celebrate National Underdog Day on November 18th, Keri’s story certainly inspires sports aficionados globally. Most of us have a favorite underdog story that motivates us to pick up the pieces after failing and begin once again. Our favorite underdogs show us the courage that it takes to beat all the odds. Underdogs teach us to work really hard to turn our aspirations into reality. If we are strong like steel, those who doubt our abilities will make us work even harder. Proving the naysayers wrong and seeing the shocked looks on their faces when underdogs succeed is my definition of real happiness.