STERLING—After a storied gymnastics career, one of Sterling’s own will be enshrined as a member of the U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame this month.
Sterling native Kalon Ludvigson recently said he was “honored” to be named the 2022 recipient of the Robert Miller Spirit of the Flame award.
Ludvigson is the most decorated tumbler and trampoline gymnast in U.S. history with more than 20 international medals and a run of eight consecutive U.S. tumbling titles.
“Learning that I was named as the 2022 Spirit of the Flame award recipient honestly brought tears to my eyes,” Ludvigson said. “Throughout my competitive career, I remember watching the Spirit of the Flame award presentation at national competi- tions and being so moved and inspired by the accomplishments, dedication and perseverance the recipients demonstrated. I’m truly honored to be among such an esteemed group of individuals.”
Ludvigson’s career came to a halt in 2013 when he landed on his head and neck in a demonstration at a gymnastics clinic for children. He suffered an injury to his spinal cord that left him paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair.
After roughly a four-month rehabilitation, Ludvigson showed the determination to continue succeeding despite ending his gymnastics career at a time when he was still one of the world’s best. He completed his college at Idaho State University. He now holds a doctorate in pharmacology and works as a professional inpatient pharmacist in Ohio.
Ludvigson’s perseverance after rehab is in large part of why the USA Gymnastics Athletes’ Council chose him for the award. “Despite facing enormous challenges, Kalon shows all gymnasts how to live with a spirit that cannot be broken,” Council Chair Jessica Renteria said. “The entire Athletes’ Council has been inspired by his story and perseverance, and it is with great pride that we can honor Kalon with this award.”
Prior to his injury, Ludvigson was undefeated in the U.S. as a tumbler from 2006 to 2013. He won eight consecutive titles and has 11 gold medals to his name. He also has nine silver medals and four bronze medals. Twice, he set world records in tumbling, first in 2008 at the Pan-American Games in Buenos Aires, then in 2011 when he broke his own record in Denmark.
The Spirit of the Flame Award was renamed in 2011 in honor of gymnast and Staff Sgt. Robert Miller, who received the Medal of Honor after saving the lives of fellow soldiers while serving in the war in Afghanistan.