Nastia Liukin – artistic gymnast
Nastia Liukin is an American artistic gymnast, 2005 and 2007 world champion, four-time U.S. champion (twice junior), absolute Olympic champion and silver medalist in team competitions in gymnastics at 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Anastasia was born in Moscow on October 30, 1989. She is the only child of well-known Soviet athletes: 1988 Olympic gold medalist Valeri Liukin – the first man to do a triple backflip – and 1987 World Champion, rhythmic gymnast Anna Kotchneva.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, 2,5-year-old Nastya and her parents moved to New Orleans, and then to Texas. Liukin is fluent in English and Russian. Anastasia and her family are members of the Russian Orthodox church.
She began gymnastics after spending time in the gym while her parents coached. Nastia Liukin is coached by her father at the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy, her family’s gymnastics club in Plano, Texas.
In spring 2007, she graduated from the Academy of Spring Creek, located in Plano, Texas. In January 2008, she was enrolled at Southern Methodist University, but took time off to concentrate on preparing for the Olympic Games in Beijing.
In 2002, Liukin took part in her first major competition – U.S. Junior Nationals, but fell from the bars and became the 15th. She represented the United States at the Pan American Games in 2002, and won gold.
By 2003, Liukin was one of the strongest gymnasts of the U.S. youth team. She won the U.S. National Championships and won three gold medals in individual events: bars, beam and floor exercise, and in 2004 repeated this achievement.
Liukin was a member of the U.S. team that won the Pan American Games in 2003. In addition, she won the all-around championship in the Pacific in 2004.
In 2005, Liukin won her first senior national championship. At the World Championships in Melbourne she became the first. In March 2006, Liukin was the best in the America’s Cup.
In 2007, she hurt her ankle and it required surgery. Because of the long recovery period Liukin missed most of the national and international competitions that year. Despite the limited opportunities for training in the summer of 2007 Liukin decided to participate in the all-around at the U.S. Nationals. She received the highest score ever obtained on the parallel bars, and the second result on the balance beam.
In June 2008, Liukin took part in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Philadelphia, took second place and went to Beijing as a member of the national team. Anastasia won five Olympic medals.
After the Olympics, Liukin was a guest on many talk shows, including Late Night with Conan O’Brien and The Oprah Winfrey Show. She also appeared in an episode of Gossip Girl and in the second season of Make It or Break It.
Liukin’s gymnastic career came to an end after the 2012 Olympic Trials.
Her official site: www.nastialiukin.com