On July 23, 1996, at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, the United States women’s gymnastics team wins its first-ever team gold. The women’s team, nicknamed the “Mag 7″ or “magnificent seven,” was made up of seven extremely talented teenaged girls: Amanda Borden, Amy Chow, Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, Jaycie Phelps and Kerri Strug. The American women’s best finish until that point had been a silver at the 1984 Olympics, which were boycotted by the favored Soviet Union, winner of eight consecutive team golds between 1952 and 1980.
The final event of the team competition for the United States was the vault. Fourteen-year-old Dominique Moceanu, the first American to compete, had a chance to clinch the gold for her team with a solid performance, but was unable to stick the landing on her first attempt. Moceanu took off for her second vault, and, again, slipped and fell on the landing. This left it up to Strug, America’s second and final vaulter, to seal the win. On her first attempt, Strug also fell on the landing, and heard an alarming pop in her ankle. Strug bravely readied herself to vault on her badly sprained ankle. After executing a perfect one-and-a-half twisting Yurchenko, Strug landed solidly on two feet. She then spun and hopped on one foot towards the judges’ table before collapsing in pain. When her 9.712 was announced, she celebrated in the arms of her coach, Bela Karolyi, who would later have to carry the 4-foot-9-inch “Spark Plug” Strug to the medal stand.