Thursday, July 24, 2008

OLYMPIC BEAUTIES: Nastia Liukin



Continuing our series on the fabulous women representing the USA in the upcoming Olympics, please meet Nastia Liukin.



Nastia Liukin, now 18, was four years old when her parents--a world champion rhythmic gymnast and an Olympic gold medalist from Russia--opened a gymnastics facility in Plano, Texas. They couldn't afford a nanny, so little Nastia went to the gym with them each day. She'd copy the other gymnasts doing round-offs and flips. "Nastia would do them better than the kids I was teaching," says Valeri Liukin, her father and coach.

Most parents would be thrilled to discover such talent. Not Liukin's. "Gymnastics is very hard mentally and physically," says Valeri. "I definitely didn't want my daughter living that life." But eventually--"after a lot of begging and pleading," says Nastia--she won them over. Liukin's focus has resulted in a long list of wins, and she's widely considered to be the best in the world on the uneven bars and balance beam. "Nastia has her game face on every day," says 2004 gold medalist Carly Patterson, her good friend. Her concentration also makes her incredibly consistent. "Nastia's technical execution is close to perfection," says Martha Karolyi, national team coordinator for the U.S. women's national team. Liukin is ready to win in Beijing, and can't wait to share the Olympics with her family. "It will be exactly 20 years since my dad went to the Olympics," says Liukin. "To be back with his athlete--not to mention his daughter--will be really special for both of us."

- The above article was taken from Glamour, July 2008

photos: Glamour, About Gymnastics, clipmarks, daylife

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