WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Six-year-old Kerri Strug found herself mesmerized by Mary Lou Retton's triumphs in the 1984 Summer Olympics, but it was during face-to-face training in the gym that Strug most felt the Olympian's influence.
"It had a profound effect on me," Strug said Saturday, 12 years after her own gold medal performance at the 1996 Summer Olympics.
All the while remembering the importance of her personal time with Retton, Strug spends her summer months visiting young gymnasts across the country. On Saturday, she served as a special guest coach at Rainbow Gymnastics on West Main Street.
"A lot of times, the people you see on TV, you don't really identify with," Strug said.
Most of the 70 children and teenagers enrolled in the clinic were too young to remember when Strug carried the hopes of a nation on her tiny frame and bum ankle for one final vault at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. But to the amusement of their new hero, many had found the defining moment on YouTube.