The Tonya Harding scandal, the full story

Margot Robbie is currently one of the most popular actresses in Hollywood. He has successes such as «The Wolf of Wall Street» or the «Suicide Squad».

To interpret Tonya Harding, he had to change the image he is accustomed to a lot, so when it was learned that he would play the skater, the network was flooded with images and comments linked to this transformation.


But the story that Robbie is going to star is far from being a biopic anymore. The actual events on which it is based are far from lacking interest. Robbie embodies Tonya Harding, the protagonist of one of the best-known sports scandals of the 1990s.

Do you want to know its history? Then read on!

Tonya Harding, one of the best skaters in the United States

The one that became one of the best skaters in the United States and, also, one of the most controversial characters in the country’s sports history did not have easy beginnings.

Tonya Harding was born in 1970 in a family with serious economic problems.

In interviews and articles after the events that we are going to present, Tonya came to indicate that in his house they survived thanks to charity and that many times he arrived at the track or school without eating because there was no for his house.

He also accused his mother of physically and psychologically abusing her on many occasions during her childhood and adolescence. Tonya began to skate with just three years and her unusual talent very soon made her stand out from other competitors of her age.

He was advancing in competitive terms over the years and very soon left school to focus on his sports career.

Tonya Harding
Tonya Harding

Tonya’s style, far removed from the usual canons linked to figure skating, conquered filias and phobias in equal parts, but her technique, her great ability to make jumps and her risky programs made her become one of the best American skaters known so far.

Harding had his best time as a professional skater in the early 1990s. In 1991 he won the title in the US national championship and, that same year, was second in the world championship. On this last date, she became the first woman to debut a triple axel successfully in an international competition.

That same year, the triple axel combination with a double toe loop also debuted for the first time.

These difficult combinations made Tonya a true star and it seemed that he had secured a spot on the podium of the next Olympic games, which would be held in 1992 in Abertville, in France.

However, during these Games, Tonya had a bad performance and finished fourth, being overtaken by two of his compatriots, Kristi Yamaguchi and Nancy Kerrigan, who reached the podium.

After the 1992 Olympics, Tonya Harding’s career seemed to deflate.

Their results were far from being the ones he conquered during the years 1991 and 1992 and his star seemed to be in decline.

During this time, Tonya was married to Jeff Gillooly, with whom he had a volatile relationship. He asked for a divorce on two occasions and came to request a restraining order from his person, but they also returned to be together on several occasions and even made him his manager.

His personal problems, together with changes of constant coaches and problems of consistency in competitions, made his fame decrease, while increasing that of several of his closest competitors, especially Nancy Kerrigan.

However, the change in the cycle of the Summer Olympics with the winter ones led to the editions of the latter in both 1992 and 1994.

This meant that Tonya Harding had the opportunity to qualify again for a few Games and achieve his great ambition to get an Olympic medal.

However, in order to participate, he had to remain in the top positions of the United States national championship, which would serve to elucidate which skaters would attend the Games on behalf of the United States.

Tonya Harding was at risk of not being able to go if she was overwhelmed by Nancy Kerrigan and Michelle Kwan, based on the poor results she had achieved that season and the bad image she was giving both for her personal problems and for her lack of competitive consistency.

Tonya Harding needed to win that competition.

Shortly before the competition, in one of the last practices that skaters performed, an event occurred that nobody could anticipate.

A man attacked Nancy Kerrigan as she left the track, violently hitting her right knee with a bar or baton.

Kerrigan’s screams were heard by the people who were in training and the cameras caught the moment when Nancy was discovered crying on the floor and screaming in pain after the attack.

Nancy was injured and could not compete; Tonya was the winner and there were serious doubts that the big favorite could even opt to participate in the Olympic Games.

The consequences of Tonya Harding’s attack

The surprise jumped into the media when it was discovered a few days after Kerrigan’s attacker had been Shane Stant, a hitman who had been hired by Tonya’s already ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly and Tonya’s bodyguard, Shwan Eckhardt.

The scandal was capitalized and the press launched to tell the story of the skating princess who had been cruelly attacked by a jealous rival that came from the lowest extracts of society and had had the help of her husband and a thug to get a victory that did not belong, while the investigation continued.

Tonya denied having participated or had knowledge of the attack before, although those involved immediately declared that she had been one of the people who had orchestrated him.

The US Olympic Committee raised the possibility of removing Tonya from the Olympic team and not letting her compete in the Games, but this idea was rejected as Tonya’s guilt and the threat of a serious complaint that could arise from this fact have not been proven. .

Thus, Tonya and Nancy Kerrigan, who managed to recover for the event, participated in the Olympic Games in February 1994.

Tonya Harding, in eighth position

However, Tonya did not achieve his goal. His performance was not too bright and was in eighth position, far from the podium. For his part, Nancy Kerrigan won the silver medal.

The media circus around the attack by Nancy Kerrigan continued during the months after the Olympic Games.

Giloolly stated that Tonya had known his plans before and had talked to her about it last night.

Tonya, on the other hand, indicated that she had not known the attack before, but that she knew it later and was silent for fear of her ex-husband, who had physically threatened her. To avoid greater evils, in March of that same year Tonya pleaded guilty to the crime of having hindered the criminal investigation carried out around the attack on Nancy. It could never be demonstrated that Tonya had done more than this, although speculation about his real intervention in the attack is still alive today.

As a consequence of this fact, Tonya was dispossessed of her title of United States champion of the year 1994 and was prohibited from competing or being linked to any activity related to the US Figure Skating Association which, in practice, meant the end of her Skating race.

The impact of this case was so great that the confrontation between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding is still discussed today.

The event starred in magazine covers of the likes of «People» or «Newsweek» and it was seen how journalists camped in front of the lodgings of those involved during the period immediately before and after the Olympic Games.

Songs were composed on the subject, books were written and even an operatic representation was made that had the rivalry of Nancy and Tonya as the main key.

The event continues to be remembered and jumping to the press every time they produce an Olympic Winter Games and continues to be one of the main sport scandals of all time. Now, this story is reborn with the next premiere of the film starring Margot Robbie, which will be titled «I, Tonya.»

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