Senior gymnast, Samantha Cerio, was competing in a NCAA gymnastics regional event on April 5th when both she and her team – the Auburn Tigers – were halfway through the semi-final in Baton Rouge.
While the gymnast was making her first pass — attempting a a handspring double front with a blind landing — she landed hard and fell to the mat.
Cerio could be seen screaming in pain after the fall — clutching both her legs on the floor prior to medical staff quickly coming to her aid.
Jeff Graba, the gymnast’s coach, 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.”
Despite coaching the Tigers for nine seasons since the 1980s, Graba said he has never seen an injury like Cerio’s before.
He shared how he felt “lucky” first-rate medical staff were close by to take good care of her.
And while the coach would not discuss the extent of Cerio’s injuries, sources from Nola.com report that the gymnast dislocated both of her knees as well as broke both legs.
The gymnast who hails from Huntersville, North Carolina, had Aircasts on both of her legs as she left the arena.
As she was stretchered away by medical staff, she received a standing ovation.
After Cerio’s horrific injury, her team rallied around her — using the hashtag #StickItForSam before the final on April 6th.
Abby Millet, Cerio’s teammate who is a senior gymnast for the Tigers, rounded up her teammates prior to the final — telling them to use her injuries as their “new fire.”
“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.” Millet encouraged.
Cerio has since revealed that the night of her injury was the her last night as a gymnast — announcing her retirement via social media.
Cerio shared the following post, saying:
“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.”
NOW WATCH: Sweden Actually Turns It’s Garbage Into Energy | Save The World