Stepping onto the floor of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge last Friday, Auburn gymnast Samantha Cerio had no idea it would the last competition of her career.
The 22-year-old kicked off her floor routine with a smile as she approached her first tumbling pass, but things took a terrifying turn after she failed to stick a blind landing, resulting in a double knee dislocation and multiple torn ligaments.
“Sam’s surgery lasted two and a half hours and was 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.”
— Coach Jeff Graba (@CoachJeffGraba) April 9, 2019
Gymnastics has one of the highest injury rates among girls’ sports, with around 100,000 injuries per year, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Aside from the usual bumps and bruises gymnasts face, more serious, common injuries include finger and hand injuries, ligament tears, achilles tendon strains, herniated discs, and ankle sprains.
It’s rare that athletes encounter an injury as severe as Cerio’s. “It was pretty tough to watch,” Auburn’s coach Jeff Graba told the Times-Picayune, adding that he had never seen anything like what happened to Cerio in all of his years as a coach.
Cerio underwent surgery on Monday, April 8, and she appears to be recovering well. “Sam’s surgery lasted two and a half hours and was an extreme success,” Graba wrote on Twitter today. “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.”
Louisiana State University (LSU) President Fieldon King Alexander payed a visit to Cerio in the hospital on Monday, and she appeared to be in good spirits.
Despite the injury, Cerio’s teammates finished the competition with an overall score of 197.075, which earned them a spot in the regional final this Saturday, the Times-Picayune reported.
I had the opportunity to visit @AuburnGym’s @sam_cerio this weekend. What a wonderful, inspiring young lady. I have no doubt she will overcome this injury and go on to do amazing things. pic.twitter.com/K3l79QYNDZ
— F. King Alexander (@lsuprez) April 8, 2019
Two days after the competition, Cerio announced in an Instagram post that she was retiring from gymnastics for good, though she “couldn’t be prouder of the person” gymnastics made her. “After 18 years I am hanging up my grips and leaving the chalk behind,” she wrote in the post. “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,” she continued. “It may not have ended the way I had planned, but nothing ever goes as planned.”
Cerio plans to graduate Auburn in May with a degree in aerospace engineering. She has a job lined up at Boeing in Seattle, and has a lot to look forward to with her marriage in June to fiancé Trey Wood. Her new goal in the upcoming weeks? To make a full recovery so she can walk down the aisle!