Olympic hero Strug won't join U.S. women's team on fall tour She signs to headline in show with Russians

September 01, 1996|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

Kerri Strug, who went from relative unknown to Olympic hero by helping the U.S. women's gymnastics team to a gold medal last month in Atlanta despite competing on a badly sprained ankle, will not be part of the team's post-Olympic tour this fall. But it's not because of the injury.

While her six Olympic teammates will begin a 34-show tour later this month that will stop at USAir Arena on Oct. 13, Strug will be the star attraction of what originally had been a tour of Russian gymnasts that will include a show at the Baltimore Arena in late October or early November.

According to Strug's agent, the 18-year-old from Tucson, Ariz., signed a deal with Magic Promotions and Theatrics, a Cleveland-based company, to make up to 30 appearances this year and 90 over the next 3 1/2 years. Terms of the contract were not announced.

Leigh Steinberg, the California sports attorney who was hired by Strug's parents after their daughter's spectacular rise to celebrity at the Centennial Games, said Strug also will make about 10 appearances with the Ice Capades, which has added a gymnastics component to its show.

Steinberg said that Strug's decision not to tour with the rest of the U.S. women's team was not solely financially motivated, though sources said that Strug stands to make substantially more on the International Gold Medal Tour. It will have six members of the Russian men's and women's teams, including men's all-around Olympic champion Alexi Nemov, as well as American Jair Lynch.

"Kerri's very interested in going to school," Steinberg said yesterday. "We were looking at a combination of things that will allow her to do both, as well as have an actual degree of creative control. Because she's going to school in the fall, she didn't have the flexibility that the others who aren't going had."

Strug will start classes at UCLA Sept. 23. Though she has given up her amateur status and scholarship, Strug plans to be a volunteer assistant coach with the Bruins' women's team.

Strug has not signed any individual endorsement deals since leaving Atlanta last month. She was part of a deal with the rest of the U.S. team to be on a Wheaties box, as well as a book contract that was signed prior to the Centennial Games.

Pub Date: 9/01/96

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