Auburn gymnast Samantha Cerio reflects on overcoming horrific injury that left her with two dislocated knees

USATSI

Auburm gymnast Samantha Cerio sustained a terrible injury that left her with both both knees dislocated, one broken leg and multiple torn ligaments in April.

She landed awkwardly out of a handspring, double front during a floor pass, a combination that calls for a blind landing. Footage of her catastrophic injury went viral. It reached the point where Cerio's friends and family asked people to stop sharing the video  because it forced her to relive the injury that left her unable to walk with assistance for an elongated amount of time. 

A few months later, doctors have confirmed just how rare the injury is in an ESPNW profile on Cerio. According to Dr. Benton Emblom, a colleague of the doctor who performed surgery on the gymnast after the injury, a one degree under rotation caused her landing to send the energy of the land through the backs of her knees instead of upward. 

"Just to put things in perspective, Dr. Andrews has been taking care of athletes for 45 years, and he said he'd never seen a bilateral knee dislocation in an athlete. So it's kind of like a 100-year storm. I'll probably never see it again," Emblom said.

Cerio's recovery has shocked doctors, as she has progressed faster than expected. She was able to walk at her college graduation with crutches and months later walked with her father down the aisle at her wedding.  

"You go from this very high moment of seeing college gymnasts go viral for floor routines and getting 10s everywhere to a very stark difference when someone gets injured, and it's not something people are used to seeing in the sport," Cerio said.

What hurt Cerio more than the injury was the feeling that she had let the team down.

"That was my only thought at the time," she said. "Now I can't compete on bars and I can't compete the next day. My mind was like, 'There's no way I can help my team.' That was probably the biggest hit, regardless of the injury. I felt like I had just blown it for the team."

On the next rotation Auburn recorded a season high on vault and scored a 49.350 on bars.

Cerio is still not fully recovered from the injury.

Our Latest Stories