Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

Strug Earns Hall-of-Fame Honors

By Brian Berk

United States gymnast Kerri Strug, remembered for her gold medal-winning vault at the 1996 Olympics, was elected to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (IJSHOF) on Dec. 1.

"I am honored to be inducted in the Hall-of-Fame," Strug said. "I feel like I have received a tre-mendous amount of support and enthusiasm from all types, which I greatly appreciate."

"My family is excited and honored for me as well," said Strug. "They are my biggest fans and a wonderful support system."

The 22-year-old native of Tucson, Ariz., stands at 4-feet-9-inches tall. She weighs 87 pounds. Strug has short brown hair and brown eyes.

Strug, despite a heavily wrapped injured ankle, scored 9.712 out-of-ten on her final vault at the summer games in Atlanta. Her score helped lift the United States gymnastics team to their first-ever-gold medal.

After Strug performed the event, she fell to the floor, writh-ing in pain. "I had trained long and hard to complete that vault successfully and I wanted to prove to myself and the world I could do it," Strug said. "It seems crazy all that has tran-spired due to just 'fulfilling my job.'"

Strug was "the courageous 'team player,' the kind of athlete that probably defines what Pierre de Coubertin had in mind when he created the modern Olympic games," said Alan Sherman, chairman of the IJSHOF.

Strug's performance landed her on Time's front cover on Aug. 5, 1996. Ace Bandage named her its spokesperson. Strug retired from the U.S. Olympic team. She is pursuing a communications degree at Stan-ford University. Strug joined a sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta. "I love Stanford and all it has to offer!" she said.

Strug still follows gymnastics closely. She made predictions for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. "I think (the U.S.) may pull out a bronze, but not the gold," said Strug. "The Russians, Ukrainians, Chinese and Romanians are strong!"

The Dec. 1 elections marked the first time that three women have been inducted into the hall-of-fame in the same year. The IJSHOF, located on the campus of The Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sports in Netanya, Israel, named U.S. la-dies professional golf champion Amy Alcott and Dutch field hockey standout Carina Ben-ninga to its hall-of-fame.

Alcott was "the pro with an extraordinary and enduring ca-reer: Benninga-the power super athlete who has won and done it all," said Sherman.

Five men were chosen for the hall-of-fame. Harry "The Horse" Danning, a four-time baseball all-star with the New York Gi-ants, was one. According to Sherman, Danning earned his nickname from broadcaster Ted Hussing, who borrowed it from one of Damon Runyon's charac-ters.

The other inductees were: Dayton Daily News sportswriter, Si Burrick, Italian boxer Lello Efreti, 1928 World Junior Light-weight Champion, Jack Bern-stein and Hungarian official Bela Rajki-Reigh.

Hall-of-fame ceremonies will be held in the summer of 2000.

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