Anastasia Valeryevna "Nastia" Liukina (//; Russian: Анастасия "Настя" Валерьевна Люкина [ˈlʲʉkʲɪnə]; born October 30, 1989) is a Russian-born American former artistic gymnast. She is the 2008 Olympic All-Around champion, a five-time Olympic medalist, the 2005 and 2007 world champion on the balance beam, and the 2005 world champion on the uneven bars. She is also a four-time all-around U.S. national champion, winning twice as a junior and twice as a senior. With nine World Championships medals, seven of them individual, Liukin is tied with Shannon Miller for the third-highest tally of World Championship medals (among U.S. gymnasts). Liukin also tied Miller's record (later equaled by Simone Biles) as the American gymnast having won the most medals in a single non-boycotted Olympic Games.
|Full name||Anastasia Valeryevna Liukina|
|Country represented||United States|
|Born||October 30, 1989|
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
(now Moscow, Russian Federation)
|Hometown||Parker, Texas, U.S.|
|Height||5 ft 3 in (160 cm)|
|Discipline||Women's artistic gymnastics|
|Level||Senior International Elite|
|Years on national team||2002–09, 2011–12 (USA)|
|Gym||World Olympic Gymnastics Academy|
|Head coach(es)||Valeri Liukin|
|Assistant coach(es)||Natalya Marakova|
|Former coach(es)||Anna Liukin|
|Music||Variations on Dark Eyes|
by Lara St. John
|Eponymous skills||Liukin (Balance beam)|
|Retired||July 2, 2012|
|Education||New York University|
Liukin was a key member of the U.S. senior team. She represented the United States at three World Championships and one Olympic Games. In October 2011, Liukin announced that she was returning to gymnastics with the hopes of making a second Olympic team. Liukin did not make the 2012 Olympic team, after several falls at the Olympic Trials and other pre-Olympic events, and retired from the sport in 2012.
Liukin was born on October 30, 1989, in Moscow, Russia SFSR, Soviet Union. She is the only child of two former Soviet champion gymnasts: 1988 Summer Olympics gold medalist Valeri Liukin and 1987 world clubs champion in rhythmic gymnastics Anna Kotchneva. Liukin and her family are members of the Russian Orthodox church. Her nickname Nastia is a Russian diminutive for Anastasia. The family immigrated to the United States when Nastia was two and a half years old, following the breakup of the Soviet Union, and settled first in New Orleans before moving to Texas. In 1994, Valeri Liukin teamed up with another former Soviet champion athlete, Yevgeny Marchenko, to open the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA) in Plano, Texas.
Liukin is fluent in English and Russian. She graduated from Spring Creek Academy, located in Plano, Texas, in the spring of 2007. She enrolled as a freshman international business major at Southern Methodist University in January 2008, and took a leave from classes to concentrate on preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games. She returned to campus in spring 2009, but her travel schedule and professional commitments caused her to withdraw before the end of the semester. She stated that she hoped to continue her studies at New York University in the future. Liukin's signature color is pink, hence her pink leotard worn during the 2008 Beijing Olympics all-around competition.
People Magazine claimed that Liukin was in a relationship with American figure skater Evan Lysacek in a February 2010 article, but Lysacek denied the rumors in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, stating that the two were just "very close friends." In January 2013, Liukin attended New York University where she studied sports management and psychology. In May 2016, she graduated from NYU.
On June 1, 2015, Liukin was engaged to Matt Lombardi, an American former Boston College hockey player who played for 2 seasons in the ECHL. She announced the engagement on Instagram, with a photo of her ring and her fiancé in the background, with the caption "So this just happened..."
In March 2017, she said she was "completely shocked" when she heard about the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal saying the following about Larry Nassar: "Every encounter that I had with him was professional. My whole experience on the national team with USA Gymnastics was nothing but positive."
Liukin began gymnastics at the age of three because she was "always hanging around in the gym" with her parents, who could not afford a babysitter to look after her while they were working as coaches. Liukin's parents initially did not aspire for their daughter to become a gymnast, knowing the pressure of high-level competition firsthand, but relented when they noticed her aptitude for the sport.
Liukin competed in her first National Championships as a junior in 2002, at the age of 12 and a half. In contrast to her WOGA teammates Carly Patterson and Hollie Vise, who finished first and second, respectively, Liukin suffered a fall on the uneven bars that rendered her unable to finish the routine. She continued through the rest of the competition and, despite the incomplete bars set, finished 15th, which landed her one of the final spots on the U.S. National Team. She was chosen to compete with the U.S. team at the 2002 Junior Pan American Championships, where she contributed to the team gold medal and placed second on the uneven bars and balance beam and in the all-around.
By 2003, Liukin was one of the strongest junior gymnasts in the United States. She won the junior division of the U.S. National Championships, as well as gold medals on three of the four events: uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. She repeated these accomplishments in 2004. Liukin was a member of the gold-medal winning U.S. team at the 2003 Pan Am Games; she took second place in the all-around behind fellow American Chellsie Memmel. She also won the all-around in the junior division of the 2004 Pacific Alliance Championships.
Born in 1989, Liukin was ten months too young to compete as a senior in 2004, and thus was not eligible for a place on the U.S. team for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Her scores in the junior division at the 2004 U.S. National Championships were competitive with those being posted by the seniors, and Marta Karolyi, the U.S. national team coordinator, has said that if Liukin had been eligible, she would have been named to the Olympic team.
In 2005, Liukin won her first senior National Championships and, once again, earned gold medals on the bars and beam. At the 2005 World Championships in Melbourne, she finished second in the all-around behind teammate Chellsie Memmel with a score of 37.823.
In March 2006, Liukin placed first in the all-around at the American Cup. At the 2006 Pacific Alliance Championships, Liukin tied with teammate Memmel for first in the all-around, won the uneven bars title and a silver medal on beam, and contributed to the U.S. team's gold-medal performance. She competed at the 2006 U.S. Classic as the defending all-around champion, but falls on the uneven bars and floor resulted in a fourth-place finish. However, she scored extremely well on the balance beam and was the only competitor in the meet, junior or senior, to earn a score over 16.00 on this event. After that when she was interviewed on ABC television show Dancing with the Stars, she said,"After that, I realized that it's not all about winning. It's about the journey."
In late August, at the 2006 U.S. National Championships, Liukin successfully defended her all-around, beam and bars titles, becoming a two-time senior national champion. She was named to the U.S. team for the 2006 World Gymnastics Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, and was expected by many to be a strong contender for the all-around title. However, because of an ankle injury sustained in training before the competition began, she was only able to compete on one event, the uneven bars. In spite of her injury, in the qualification round, Liukin's bars set earned a 16.2, the highest score of any competitor on any apparatus in the meet. Her bars routine in team finals scored a 15.7 and helped the U.S. team win the silver medal. Liukin also qualified for the event finals on bars, where she took a small step on her dismount and finished with a 16.05, earning a silver medal behind Britain's Beth Tweddle.
Liukin's ankle injury required surgery, and the recovery period kept her out of both national and international competition for much of the year. In July 2007, although she was still recovering from her injury, she returned to competition as a member of the American team for the Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro. She competed only on bars and beam, contributing to the team's gold-medal finish and winning individual silver medals in the uneven bars and balance beam finals.
Despite limited training time on floor and vault in the summer of 2007, Liukin opted to compete all-around at the 2007 U.S. National Championships. She posted the highest score of the entire meet on bars and the second highest score on beam on the second day of competition, winning the senior bars title for the third year in a row and placing second on beam. However, she also suffered several falls and errors on floor and vault, and finished in third place overall, more than five points behind Shawn Johnson, the all-around gold medalist.
Following Nationals, Liukin was named to the American team for the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, where she competed all-around in the team qualifying round and on bars and beam in the finals. Liukin's score for her bars routine in team finals was a 16.375, the highest score of the day and, in the end, the entire World Championships. However, at the end of her beam routine, her foot slipped while she was setting up her dismount, prompting her to change her usual skill, a two and a half twisting salto, to a simple back tuck. While she lost credit for her dismount, she also avoided a deduction for a fall, and earned a 15.175. The team recovered from this and other mistakes to finish first overall with 184.400, nearly a point ahead of the silver-medal Chinese.
Liukin's struggles with the balance beam continued in the all-around final, where she fell from the apparatus during her flight series. In spite of a 16.100 on bars, the highest score of the day from any competitor on any event, she finished the competition in fifth place. In the event finals, however, Liukin rallied and regained her world champion title on the balance beam with a score of 16.025. She also earned a silver on the uneven bars behind Russia's Ksenia Semenova, scoring a 16.300 after taking a step on her dismount.
Liukin's first meet of the 2008 season was the American Cup in New York City, where she defeated 2007 winner Shawn Johnson to regain her title. She posted the highest score of the meet, a 16.600 on the uneven bars. In March, Nastia competed at the Pacific Rim (formerly Pacific Alliance) Championships in San Jose, where she led the American team to a gold medal and won the all-around and balance beam titles. In the team competition, Liukin posted an all-time high score of 16.650 on the uneven bars, but in event finals, she fell on her Gienger release move and took a step on her dismount, earning a 15.225 and taking second place.
At the 2008 U.S. National Championships in Boston, Liukin fell on the floor on her double front tuck the first day of competition, but had a strong meet on her other events and placed second in the all-around behind Shawn Johnson. She regained her national champion title on the beam and defended her national title on the uneven bars for the fourth consecutive year, scoring a 17.050 in preliminaries and a 17.100 in finals, the highest recorded score for any American gymnast at any event since the advent of the new Code of Points. In June, Liukin competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in Philadelphia, finishing second behind Johnson and earning a berth on the American team for Beijing.
Liukin performed all-around in the qualifying round of competition. She fell on her dismount from the uneven bars, but nevertheless qualified to the all-around final with a score of 62.325, which ranked her just behind Shawn Johnson, her friend and Olympic roommate. Liukin also qualified to three event finals: beam, uneven bars (in spite of the fall) and floor exercise.
In the team finals, Liukin performed on three events: beam, bars and floor exercise. Her uneven bars score of 16.900 was the highest mark awarded in the entire Olympic competition. Liukin performed second on balance beam, matching her qualifying score of 15.975. On floor exercise, she stepped out of bounds on her first tumbling pass, incurring a 0.1-point penalty, with a final score of 15.200. The American team earned the silver medal, 2.375 points behind China.
On August 15, Liukin performed clean routines on all four events (sticking her landings on three out of four events) to win the all-around gold medal with a final score of 63.325. Shawn Johnson took the silver medal with a score of 62.725. The win marked the third time that an American woman had won the Olympic all-around title; Mary Lou Retton and Carly Patterson were the two previous American gold medalists. It was also the fourth time in the history of the Games that two athletes from the same country had taken first and second place in the women's all-around. The last time this was accomplished was the 2000 Olympics, when Romanian gymnasts won gold and silver; Soviet gymnasts also won gold and silver all-around medals at the 1952 and 1960 Games.
In the event finals, Liukin displayed a beautiful routine to earn a surprising bronze medal on floor exercise with a score of 15.425, behind Shawn Johnson, with 15.500, and Romanian Sandra Izbasa, with 15.650. On uneven bars, Liukin and China's He Kexin both posted final marks of 16.725 and earned identical A- and B-panel scores of 7.70 and 9.025, respectively. However, He Kexin won the gold medal, and Liukin was awarded the silver, after a tie-breaking calculation that took into account individual marks given by judges on the B-panel. In the balance beam final, Liukin scored 16.025 to claim silver behind Shawn Johnson's 16.225. With her fifth Beijing medal, Liukin tied Mary Lou Retton and Shannon Miller for the most gymnastics medals won by an American in a single Olympic Games.
Following her success in Beijing, Liukin was named the USOC Female Athlete of the Month (August) and ultimately USOC Co-Sportswoman of the Year alongside swimmer Natalie Coughlin; the Women's Sports Foundation Individual Sportswoman of the Year; FIG Athlete of the Year and USAG Sportswoman of the Year. In addition, she was ranked third in the Associated Press' 2008 Female Athlete of the Year voting.
In March 2009, Liukin was announced as one of 12 semifinalists for the AAU Sullivan Award. The annual award honors the athlete who best represents "the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of amateurism." On April 15, 2009, Liukin's Olympic teammate Shawn Johnson won the AAU Sullivan Award.
Liukin decided that she was not done with gymnastics and made her first post-Olympics competitive appearance at the CoverGirl Classic, where she competed only on balance beam. She placed second behind teammate Ivana Hong. Liukin thought about competing uneven bars and beam at the U.S. Championships, but decided to once again just perform on beam. She placed fourth and looked on track to possibly make a fourth World Championships team. Liukin was added to the national team and included in the World Championships selection camp. However, she pulled out of Worlds selection consideration because she felt that she was not quite up to World Championships standards.
After several months of conditioning, training, revamping routines and showing readiness at summer training camp, Liukin petitioned for a spot at the Visa National Championships. In order for the petition to be granted, she had to show readiness by scoring at least a 14.0 on one apparatus at a qualifying event (the U.S. Secret Classic) on May 26. She did so, scoring a 14.9 on balance beam.
On beam at the Visa Championships, Liukin scored a 15.1 on night one, followed by a 14.1 on night two to place sixth on the event. On bars, she placed 20th after scoring a 13.150 on night one and 13.650 on night two. Despite this, Liukin was chosen to compete at the Olympic Trials.
Liukin's gymnastics career came to an end after the 2012 Olympic Trials. On the final night of competition, she fell off the bars on her Gienger release, but got back up to finish her routine and landed her first competitive dismount since her comeback. After falling, she was helped up by her coach (her father) to continue her routine. Her bars routine received a 13.950. After she finished her beam routine, which scored a 14.950, she received a standing ovation from the 18,000 fans in the HP Pavilion in San Jose. Despite the end of her gymnastics career, Liukin went to London as the athlete representative for the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).
Liukin was known for her long, expressive lines and flexibility, but she was weak on vault. The most difficult vault she performed was a 1.5 twisting Yurchenko. As of 2008, Liukin performed the following skills on these apparatus:
|Apparatus||Skills||D score||Top score in competition|
|Vault||Yurchenko 1½||5.5||15.100 (Olympic Qualifications)|
|Uneven bars||Glide kip cast to handstand [KCHS], stalder shoot to high bar [Ray]; KCHS, pike stalder 1/2 to eagle grip (D), eagle Endo (D), Ono (E), Healy (E), Ono 1/2 (E), Layout Gienger (E); KCHS, pike stalder (D), Tkatchev (D); KCHS, Pak salto (D); KCHS 1/2, toe shoot to high bar; KCHS, giant 1/2 to eagle grip, double front 1/2 dismount (D)||7.7||17.1 (2008 Visa Championships Day 2)|
|Balance beam||Press to handstand mount, arms by ears; front aerial walkover, back flip flop, layout stepout; full turn w/ leg at horizontal; switch leap 1/2; split jump, sheep jump; side salto tucked; Onodi, wolf jump 1/1; salto forward piked, take off from one leg landing on one foot to scale [Liukin]; switch split ring leap; round-off, 2½ twisting dismount||6.7||16.400 (2008 Pacific Rim Championships)|
|Floor exercise||Front handspring (FHS), front layout 1/1, front 2/1; FHS double front; switch ring, split leap full; round-off 1½ -1½; double turn w/ leg at horizontal; switch leap 1/2; round-off 2½ dismount||6.2||15.850 (2008 Visa Championships Day 2)|
In her 2012 comeback, Liukin performed the following skills on these apparatus:
|Apparatus||Skills||D score||Top score in competition|
|Uneven bars||Free jump to high bar; stalder 1/2 (C), Ono (E), Healy (E), Ono 1/2 (E), Gienger (D); kip cast to handstand [KCHS], Straddled Thatchev; kip cast to handstand [KCHS], Pak salto (D); KCHS 1/2, Toe shoot to high bar; KCHS, giant 1/2 to eagle, double front 1/2 dismount (D)||6.5||14.05 (2012 Olympic Trials Day 1)|
|Balance beam||Split mount; front aerial walkover, back flip flop, layout stepout; switch leap 1/2, Onodi, sheep jump; split jump, sissone; full turn w/ leg at horizontal, full turn; side salto tucked; aerial cartwheel; switch ring leap; round-off, 2½ twisting dismount||6.3||15.1 (2012 Visa Championships Day 1)|
|Balance Beam||Liukin||Front salto from one leg to scale||D||In the Named Elements Section of 2013-2016 CoP|
- 2006–2008: "Variations on Dark Eyes"
- 2004–2005: "Second Kill" and "Building the Bullet" by Luis Bacalov
- 2001–2003: "Rondo Capriccioso" by Camille Saint-Saëns
Nastia Liukin CupEdit
The Nastia Liukin Cup is an annual gymnastics competition held in the United States that is hosted by Liukin. The inaugural edition was contested in 2010. The competition is open to Level 10 gymnasts, who can only qualify to the event at designated invitationals across the country.
There are both junior and senior fields for the competition, and the competition takes place the Friday prior to the AT&T American Cup, which occurs on the next day, Saturday. The incentive of the competition is to give pre-elite athletes the experience and opportunity to compete on a raised podium surface as well as in a large arena, which is not the norm for average USAG Optional competitions.
Many former competitors at the Cup have gone on to elite competition and even international competition, with 2012 Olympic Champion Gabby Douglas and 2017 World All Around Champion Morgan Hurd having competed in the 2010 and 2014 editions respectively. Ashton Locklear, Mykayla Skinner and Kayla Williams have also participated in the event.
Film and televisionEdit
Outside of competitive gymnastics, Liukin had cameo roles in the April 2006 Touchstone Pictures film Stick It, a 2008 episode of Gossip Girl and a quick cameo appearance on the Bravo TV show NYC Prep. She has expressed a desire to become an actress in the future. Following the Beijing Olympics, Liukin appeared on many talk shows in the United States, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Oprah Winfrey Show.
She also appeared in the second season of Make It or Break It.
Liukin was on The Tour of Gymnastics Superstars, which was broadcast nationwide on MyNetworkTV. Tapings of the second show of the tour were included in Frosted Pink with a Twist, a television special about women's cancers. The TV special aired on ABC on October 12, 2008, and featured singers Jesse McCartney, Kenny Loggins, Cyndi Lauper and Carole King.
On the April 16, 2012 episode of The Price Is Right, Liukin appeared as a guest model.
On February 24, 2015, Liukin was announced as one of the celebrities who would compete on the 20th season of Dancing with the Stars. She was partnered with professional dancer and five-time champion Derek Hough. They made it to week 9 (the semi-finals), but were then eliminated on May 12, 2015, despite receiving the highest scores of that week and consistently earning high scores throughout the season.
Liukin serves as an analyst for NBC Sports Group during their coverage of gymnastics events and was a contributor for NBCOlympics.com during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She was also a special correspondent for NBC during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. During the Sochi broadcast, she presented daily features for The Olympic Zone, a 30-minute daily show for NBC affiliates, covering all aspects of the Games.
In 2018, Liukin competed on American Ninja Warrior, taking part in the Red Nose Day special edition. She finished all the obstacles in Stage 1, with the help of Barclay Stockett.
Liukin is also a professional speaker on such subjects as Olympians and women in sports.
Liukin's corporate sponsors include Visa, AT&T, GK Elite Sportswear and Longines. She appeared in an Adidas commercial with Nadia Comăneci that ran during the 2004 Olympics and a 2008 commercial for Visa Inc. She signed an endorsement deal on March 15, 2010, and appears in commercials for Subway. After the Beijing Olympics, she was signed to be one of four American Olympians featured on Wheaties cereal boxes.
Liukin has expressed interest in the fashion world; she has served as a Longines Sports Ambassador of Elegance since 2006 and, along with her teammates Shawn Johnson and Alicia Sacramone, was one of the first female athletes ever to be signed as CoverGirl spokesmodels. She also collaborated with Vanilla Star Jeans to create a junior girls' clothing line and has modeled for Max Azria. In June 2010, she launched a line of girls' wear called Supergirl by Nastia for department store chain JC Penney. In May of 2018, Liukin partnered with recovery mattress & sheets company Molecule Sleep.
Liukin is also a major aide for victims of natural disasters. In October 2008, Liukin partnered with World Vision to help her home state of Texas recover from Hurricane Ike. In November 2012, she helped raise money and donated food to victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Liukin released her autobiography, Finding My Shine, on November 24, 2015.
|2002||USA-Japan Dual Meet|
|Pan American Championships|
|U.S. National Championships||15||5||5|
|2003||Pan American Games|
|U.S. National Championships|
|2004||Pacific Alliance Championships|
|U.S. National Championships|
|USA-Great Britain Friendly|
|U.S. National Championships||4|
|Pacific Alliance Championships|
|U.S. National Championships||7|
|Pan American Games|
|U.S. National Championships||12|
|Pacific Rim Championships||4|
|U.S. National Championships||8|
|U.S. Olympic Trials||5|
|U.S. National Championships||4|
|2010||did not compete|
|U.S. National Championships||19||6|
|U.S. Olympic Trials||10||7|
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