News National On This Day: Disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding pleads guilty

On This Day: Disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding pleads guilty

tonya harding
Tonya Harding is famous in the US for a plot in which her rival was attacked with a bat. Photo: Getty
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On this day in 1994, American figure skater Tonya Harding pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice over a plot to seriously injure fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan.

The famous incident resulted in Harding being banned for life from figure skating.

Born in 1970 in East Portland, the controversial sport star grew up in a troubled family home.

She alleges she was abused by her mother and molested by her half-brother on several occasions throughout her childhood.

To try to earn the approval of her family, Harding dedicated her life to figure skating.

She dropped out of high school when she was 16 to train full time.

After climbing up the ranks in the US Figure Skating Championships between 1986 and 1989, Harding won the 1989 Skate America Competition.

Tonya Harding competes in the free skate portion of the Women’s Figure Skating competition of the 1994 Winter Olympics. Photo: Getty

She was the 1991 and 1994 US champion and became the first American woman to land the notoriously difficult triple axel in a competition.

But her illustrious career came to an abrupt end after an incident on January 6, 1994.

Just one day before an important figure skating championship, Harding’s rival, fellow American skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked after a practice session at the Detroit Cobo Arena.

It later emerged that Harding’s ex-boyfriend had hired a hitman to smash Kerrigan’s right knee with a bat to try to force her out of the nationals competition and the Winter Olympics, allowing Harding to take her spot.

The attack left Kerrigan’s leg bruised, not broken, and she went on to win silver at the 1994 Winter Olympics. Harding finished eighth.

tonya harding
US figure skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan avoid each other at a training session in February 1994, one month after the attack. Photo: Getty

Even though Harding denied any involvement in the attack, police believe she knew about plans to attack Kerrigan.

At the time, she was the centre of a media frenzy in the US and around the world.

Many people didn’t believe her and there was much speculation about her role in the plot.

On March 16, 1994, Harding pleaded guilty to conspiracy to hinder prosecution for failing to tell police everything she knew about the attack. after it happened.

She was banned for life from figure skating on June 30, 1994.

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