December 13, 2008

Nastia Liukin "So Ready" for New Goals

Winding up a year that included an all-around victory at the Olympic Games, several television appearances and a cross-country tour, American Nastia Liukin told IG this week that she is looking forward to training for 2009 competitions as she reflects on 2008.

"I'm not even sure where to start!" the 19-year-old Liukin said of her most memorable moments of 2008. "I have had the most amazing experience of my life these past few months, but that can't even compare to the actual Olympic Games!"

Following her all-around victory at the Olympics in August in Beijing, Liukin appeared on talk shows "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," "The View," and "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and most recently acted on the hit drama "Gossip Girl." She traveled across the U.S. as a performer in the 37-city Tour of Gymnastics Superstars, after which she visited France and Russia.

"I went to Marseille, France, to do a gymnastics exhibition and then straight to Moscow for (2000 Olympic all-around champion) Alexei Nemov's annual Gala," said Liukin, a Moscow native who resides in Parker, Texas. "I got to stay in Moscow for a few days and visit friends and family as well. After Moscow, we decided to stop in Paris for a few days. I loved it! I have always wanted to go there, so I am so happy I finally got the opportunity."

This month, Liukin launched Nastia Gold, her own line of clothing with Vanilla Star Jeans. The five-time Olympic medalist is now traveling around the U.S. to promote her line. Earlier this week she was honored at a Dallas Mavericks basketball game, "which was a blast, as my dad and I are huge fans of the Mavs," she said.

Liukin's coach and father, Valeri Liukin, won the all-around silver medal, plus team and high bar gold medals, at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Her mother, Anna Kochneva Liukin, tied for the gold medal with clubs at the 1987 World Championships of rhythmic gymnastics.

This weekend, Liukin will attend the 13th annual Valeri Liukin Invitational that her club (WOGA in Plano) is hosting, followed by the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants football game. "So, life has definitely been crazy, but so much fun," Liukin said.

Liukin will perform in the fourth annual Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular, Dec. 23 in South Dakota before heading home to Parker. "I will be home for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day," Liukin said. "Then for New Year's (Eve), it is a family tradition to spend it with our closest family and friends. I haven't missed a single New Year's with my family."

Although Liukin has not competed since Beijing, she plans to resume regular training in January and attend a U.S. team training camp at the end of January.

"As far as my competition plans go, I'm not quite sure," she said. "We are taking it one step at a time. I haven't been home too much, which is the one thing that I wish I could change. I never thought I would say it before, but I miss being in the gym seven hours a day. I am so ready to be back training and getting ready for next year. The Visa (U.S.) Championships are going to be in Dallas in 2009, so I am looking forward to competing in front of a home crowd!"

Liukin said her successes in 2008 will motivate her for the challenges she will face in 2009.

"2008 was an incredible year for me," she told IG. "I couldn't have done it without so many people, especially my parents. My dad was more than half of the reason I achieved my ultimate goal. My mom wasn't my coach, but she was my other side. She was the support side of 'Team Liukin.' Also, (U.S. team coordinator) Marta Karolyi — I have so much respect for her and what she does. Without her, I wouldn't have had a chance to try to accomplish my dreams. She always made me believe in myself, especially when times were tough. As 2009 is coming close, I am creating new goals and dreams, and getting really excited about it. Gymnastics is what a have big passion for, and I know I always will!"

Source: INTL Gymnast

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