“Sticking the landing” in gymnastics is a game of chicken between the laws of physics (specifically Newton’s First Law of Motion) and the limits of the human body.
When landing a move, the body’s muscles and joints must come to a complete stop, and sometimes the laws of physics win in gruesome fashion.
To wit, Auburn gymnast Samantha Cerio, who took a hard landing during a floor routine, landed awkwardly and dislocated both of her knees.
It was initially feared that Cerio had broken both of her legs as well, but a medical update Monday confirmed that Cerio’s legs were, in fact, intact.
The landing looked more like when a skydiver comes in too hot and tries to land on his or her feet. Warning, this footage is graphic and not for the squeamish:
The way Cerio landed meant that instead of the force of impact being absorbed by a larger surface area, namely her whole foot, it was absorbed by her heels and then transferred up through her legs and into her knees, which crumbled for the same reason a golf club breaks when slammed against the ground.
Cerio, to nobody’s surprise, retired from gymnastics via a post on Instagram.
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 💙🧡
“Friday night was my final night as a gymnast. After 18 years I am hanging up my grips and leaving the chalk behind,” Cerio wrote Sunday.
“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. War Eagle Always.”
The 22-year-old Cerio will, as the NCAA once said in its advertising, “turn pro in something other than sports,” her scholarship and status as an All-SEC gymnast in 2017 and 2018 making her education possible.
“’Y’all. I know we want to feel sad for Sam right now, but this is not what she would have wanted,’” teammate Abby Milliet said to her team after Cerio’s injury. “Sam has put everything into this and she’s going to want us to give everything. This is our new fire.”
The injury came at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at an event LSU hosted.
Auburn coach Jeff Graba consoled Cerio.
“It was pretty tough to watch,” Graba said. “She’s a trooper. The last thing she said was, ‘Go help the girls.’ The girls rallied around her. They’re doing this for her right now.”
Graba also said, “I gave her a hug, told her I hugged her before she left and said we’d catch back up tonight,” according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
The Auburn team finished Friday night’s event with a cumulative score of 197.075, a school record that pushed them into the regional final, the New York Post reported.
Coach Graba shared on Twitter that Cerio will have legendary sports physician Dr. James Andrews working on her knees.
— Coach Jeff Graba (@CoachJeffGraba) April 8, 2019
Auburn’s season ended in the regional final on Saturday night.
“We said stick it for @sam_cerio, so we definitely came out here to make her proud.”
This Auburn team wraps up a special season in Regional Final.
— Auburn Gymnastics (@AuburnGym) April 7, 2019
Meanwhile, the school’s men’s basketball team fell one point short against Virginia that same night, marking a rough day for Auburn sports.
Coaching the basketball team did not, however, keep Bruce Pearl from sending some public love the gymnastics team’s way. Pearl even called Auburn “a gymnastics school” as a show of support.
— Bruce Pearl (@coachbrucepearl) April 6, 2019
And even though her college gymnastics career ended on an unfortunate note, it seems as if Cerio had some great memories along the way. All that remains for her is to heal and start the next chapter of her life.
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