Samantha Cerio gymnast, fall backward on the ground

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Samantha Cerio gymnast, fall backward on the ground.

A college gymnast suffered devastating injuries to both legs when she fell during a floor routine Friday night at the NCAA Regional Semifinal competition in Louisiana.

Auburn University senior Samantha Cerio said in an emotional Instagram post Sunday that the competition was her last one as a gymnast.

“Friday night was my final night as a gymnast. After 18 years I am hanging up my grips and leaving the chalk behind,” she wrote. “I couldn’t be prouder of the person that gymnastics has made me to become. It’s taught me hard work, humility, integrity, and dedication, just to name a few. It’s given me challenges and road blocks that I would have never imagined that has tested who I am as a person.”

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Cerio, from Huntersville, North Carolina, was trying to execute a handspring double front on her first floor routine when she landed at an awkward angle on the mat causing her to fall backward on the ground, according to NOLA.com. She was taken off the floor in a stretcher.

Cerio dislocated both knees and tore multiple ligaments in her legs, Auburn head gymnastics coach Jeff Graba said. She is expected to undergo surgery Monday.

“The Auburn Athletics Department is thankful for the outstanding care that the Auburn and the LSU medical staffs have provided to Sam. We also are thankful for the support from the LSU Athletics Department for going above and beyond in this situation. Sam is a fighter and is in great spirits. We couldn’t have a better leader for this team,” Graba said in a statement.

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“It may not have ended the way I had planned, but nothing ever goes as planned. Thank you Auburn family for giving me a home and a chance to continue doing the sport that will always be my first love,” Cerio posted on Instagram.

In a tweet Sunday night, she thanked fans for their support and good wishes, and said she is “doing well.”

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It’s not clear if Cerio, who is studying aerospace engineering, planned on leaving gymnastics prior to her fall or if she wanted to pursue it after college.

According to an article on Auburn University’s athletic website, she was a top performer on the bars for the school’s gymnastics team, The Tigers, and was recently named the SEC co-scholar athlete of the year. Cerio, who graduates in May, also has a job lined up in Seattle with Boeing where she plans to work on rockets as a structural design analysis engineer.

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