A college gymnastics star has announced her retirement from the sport after suffering a gruesome injury during the NCAA Regional Semifinal in Baton Rouge, La., on Friday.
Auburn University senior Samantha Cerio, 22, was attempting a handspring double front on the first tumbling pass of her floor routine when she landed awkwardly, dislocating both knees and breaking both legs, according to the Times-Picayune.
Auburn coach Jeff Graba, who has been coaching gymnastics since the 1980s, told the Times-Picayune that he’d never seen an injury like Cerio's in his entire career.
"It was pretty tough to watch,” Graba told the outlet. "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."
The injured athlete received a standing ovation as she was carried off the floor on a stretcher.
WARNING: The following footage is graphic:
On Sunday, Cerio, who is studying aerospace engineering and was recently named the SEC co-scholar athlete of the year, took to Instagram to share with friends and followers that she was "leaving the chalk behind" after 18 years of practicing gymnastics.
"I couldn’t be prouder of the person that gymnastics has made me to (sic) become," she wrote in an emotional post. "It’s taught me hard work, humility, integrity, and dedication, just to name a few."
"It may not have ended the way I had planned, but nothing ever goes as planned," she continued. "Thank you Auburn family for giving me a home and a chance to continue doing the sport that will always be my first love ... Thank you for letting me be a part of something bigger than myself."
Despite Cerio's injury, Auburn University advanced to the NCAA Regional Final on Saturday.
"She is the heart and soul of our team," coach Graba said of Cerio. "We wanted more than anything to do this for her."
Sadly, the team failed to advance to the national championships.
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