Harding tells ABC she heard Jeff Gillooly and Shawn Eckardt talking about how “maybe we should take somebody out so we can make sure she gets on the team"
Former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding is opening up up about her relationship with her mother, her notorious past and her reaction to the new film about her life, I, Tonya, in a interview with ABC that will air in early January as part of a two-hour special.
In an exclusive trailer for the special, above, Harding discusses the attack on her rival figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan, which dominated headlines for weeks in early 1994.
A man later identified as Shane Stant struck Kerrigan in the knee with a baton after she walked off the ice in January of that year, during practice for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Though she was injured and briefly withdrew from competition to recuperate, Kerrigan was well enough to compete in the Olympics, where she earned a silver medal in women’s singles while Harding came in eighth.
“It makes you cringe hearing it, because you know how much that it had to have hurt,” Harding says.
Though Harding was not charged in the attack itself — which was arranged by her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, along with Brian Sean Griffith (then named Shawn Eckardt) and his friend Derrick Smith, who drove the getaway car — she pleaded guilty to conspiring to hinder the prosecution of those responsible.
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Gillooly, who since changed his last name to Stone, has claimed Harding knew about the attack, telling Deadspin in 2013: “Of course she did. I think most people know that she did.”
“I knew that something was up,” Harding tells ABC in the clip above.
Asked if she said to Gillooly to go through with the plot, she says “no.” But, she says, she did “overhear” the assailants talking about how “maybe we should take somebody out so we can make sure she gets on the team.”
“I go, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ ” she says, noting that she “absolutely” believes she was “a pawn.”
The four men involved, including Stant, who wielded the baton, all ultimately served time behind bars; Harding received a fine, probation and community service.
In the summer of ’94, she was stripped of her most recent national championship title and banned for life from U.S. Figure Skating, the sport’s governing body in America, after their investigation found she “had prior knowledge [of the attack] and was involved prior to the incident.” (Harding denied this.)
In a previously shared clip from the upcoming ABC sit-down, Harding spoke out about how “the media had me convicted of doing something wrong before I had even done anything at all.”
“I am always the bad person and I never understood that,” she said.
“Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story” airs on Jan. 11 (9 p.m. ET) on ABC.