Rivalry is a simple fact of life, especially in the competitive sports world. The bigger the stage, the greater the drive to win — but some athletes have arguably gone too far in their quest to become the GOAT. Take cyclist Lance Armstrong, for instance, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France medals after his doping scandal came to light in 2012, according to ESPN. Roughly around the same time Armstrong was first setting out to make a name for himself in the cycling world, American figure skater Tonya Harding was making headlines for the part she played in the vicious attack against her longtime rival, Nancy Kerrigan.
Yep, it’s just as twisted as it sounds! Per Time, Kerrigan was “clubbed in the knee” in January 1994, an injury which sidelined her from competing in the U.S. National Championships. Media at the time reported Kerrigan’s assailants to be hitmen hired by Jeff Gillooly and Shawn Eckhardt, Harding’s ex-husband and bodyguard, respectively. Days later, Eckhardt and Gillooly both confessed, casting suspicion on Harding, per Biography. By March 1994, Harding had pleaded guilty, and was subsequently stripped of her national title and banned from the USFSA, via Biography. So, was it all worth it? Only Harding can say. Keep reading to learn some of the shadiest things Harding has said about Kerrigan ever since.
Tonya Harding felt Nancy Kerrigan was treated like 'this huge queen'
In 1998, Fox aired “Breaking the Ice,” a special featuring Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan speaking for the first time since “the whack heard around the world.” In the interview, Harding did apologize to Kerrigan; however, she never assumed full responsibility for her actions. “Nancy, I want to apologize again, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time around the wrong people,” Harding said, effectively casting blame on everyone but herself. “If I would have known anything in the beginning, I would have done anything I could to stop it. Anything. I mean, I would have dropped everything I had in my whole life to do that.”
But for someone who claimed to “have done anything to stop [the attack],” Harding hasn’t exactly shied away from throwing shade at Kerrigan, even as recently as 2014. In the ESPN film “The Price of Gold” (via Slate), Harding complained that, while “[Kerrigan] was a great skater, I was a great skater [too] … but of course she was treated like this huge queen.” It makes sense that Harding views herself as mistreated, as she clawed herself up from poverty and an abusive background. Per The New York Times, she saw the only way forward to be “when she circumvented the rules and took for herself what appeared to be given to the Nancy Kerrigans of the world.”
Has Tonya Harding recovered from the Nancy Kerrigan incident?
Nancy Kerrigan may have been injured in the 1994 scandal, but she went on to recover and nab silver at the Winter Olympics that same year. By contrast, Harding was banned from skating, stripped of her titles, and publicly shamed. “I’ve had rats thrown into my mailboxes, [s**t] left on my door, left in my mailbox, all over my truck,” the one-time skating star told The New York Times in 2018. “You name it, it’s been done to me,” she said, adding that men will sometimes even make obscene hand gestures at her when they see her at traffic lights. Given this, it’s no wonder Harding feels bitter. To add insult to injury, Harding revealed in ESPN’s “The Price of Gold” that she tried to apologize to Kerrigan at the Lillehammer Olympics, but Kerrigan wasn’t interested. “She just blew it off like it was nothing,” Harding shared (via Boston Herald). “For her to treat me like that, like I was nothing, like she was above me, I mean that’s rude.”
In the same interview, the ex-Olympian opened up about how Kerrigan was constantly treated differently than she was. “She’s a princess and I’m a pile of crap,” Harding claimed (via Slate). “How I was treated by everybody out there is not OK.” Per Boston Herald, she further branded Kerrigan “a crybaby who didn’t win gold,” so it sounds like the feud that started on the ice isn’t thawing anytime soon.
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