*Warning: Graphic Images*
A senior gymnast from Auburn University, Alabama, US, broke both her legs and dislocated both knees in a horror fall on Friday (April 5).
Samantha Cerio was competing in a NCAA gymnastics regional event when the incident happened, and her team – the Auburn Tigers – were halfway through the semi-final in Baton Rouge.
As the gymnast was making her first pass, attempting a handspring double front with a blind landing, she landed hard and fell to the mat.
Watch what happens below (routine starts at 39 minutes):
After the fall, Cerio could be seen screaming in agony, clutching both her legs on the floor before medical staff rushed to her aid.
As per Nola.com, the gymnast’s coach, Jeff Graba, said after the meet:
It was pretty tough to watch. She’s a trouper. The last thing she said was, ‘Go help the girls.’ The girls rallied around her. They’re doing this for her right now.
I gave her a hug, told her I hugged her before she left and said we’d catch back up tonight.
Graba said, despite coaching the Tigers for nine seasons and coaching gymnastics since the 1980s, he’s never seen an injury like Cerio’s before. He added he felt ‘lucky’ first-rate medical staff were around to take care of her.
Although the coach couldn’t discuss the extent of Cerio’s injuries, Nola.com report, sources with preliminary knowledge of her injuries said the gymnast dislocated both of her knees and broke both legs.
The gymnast, from Huntersville, North Carolina, had Aircasts on both legs as she left the arena, and received a standing ovation as she was stretchered away by medical staff.
Her team rallied around Cerio after her horrifying injury, using the hashtag #StickItForSam before the final on Saturday night (april 6), and each of them using her as inspiration to do well.
— Michaela Burton (@mburton2016) April 7, 2019
Thank you to the Auburn family and to every single person that made this season what is was. Seriously an honor to have been part of it. Never met a group of people with more heart. @AuburnGym, I love you❤️ #stickitforsam pic.twitter.com/nfrolBYsdC
— Allie Riddle (@allie_riddle) April 7, 2019
Cerio’s teammate Abby Milliet, a senior gymnast for the Tigers, circled up her teammates before the final and told them to use her injuries as their ‘new fire’.
She told them:
Y’all. I know we want to feel sad for Sam right now, but this is not what she would have wanted. Sam has put everything into this and she’s going to want us to give everything. This is our new fire.
Devastatingly, Cerio has since revealed Friday was her final night as a gymnast, taking to social media to announce her retirement.
Telling fans she ‘couldn’t be prouder of the person that gymnastics has made me to become,’ the gymnast said although her career may not have ended as she planned, ‘nothing ever goes as planned’.
View this post on Instagram
Friday night was my final night as a gymnast. After 18 years I am hanging up my grips and leaving the chalk behind. I couldn’t be prouder of the person that gymnastics has made me to become. It’s taught me hard work, humility, integrity, and dedication, just to name a few. It’s given me challenges and road blocks that I would have never imagined that has tested who I am as a person. It may not have ended the way I had planned, but nothing ever goes as planned. Thank you Auburn family for giving me a home and a chance to continue doing the sport that will always be my first love. I am honored to have had the privilege to represent the navy and orange AU for the past 4 years with my team by my side. Thank you for letting me share my passion with you. Thank you for letting me be a part of something bigger than myself. War Eagle Always 💙🧡
We wish Samantha a speedy recovery.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).