Valeri Liukin

Valeri Viktorovich Liukin (Russian: Валерий Викторович Люкин; born 17 December 1966 in Aktyubinsk, Kazakh SSR, Soviet Union) is a Russian-American retired artistic gymnast turned gymnastics coach. As a competitor for the former Soviet Union, Liukin was the 1988 Olympic champion in the team competition and individually on the horizontal bar, and Olympic silver medalist in the all-around and the parallel bars.

Valeri Liukin
1987 CPA 5826b.jpeg
Liukin on a 1987 Soviet stamp
Personal information
Full nameValeri Viktorovich Liukin
Former countries represented Kazakhstan
 Soviet Union
Born (1966-12-17) 17 December 1966 (age 55)
Aktyubinsk, Kazakh SSR, Soviet Union
ResidenceParker, Texas, U.S.
Height5 ft 4 in (1.63 m)[1]
DisciplineMen's Artistic Gymnastics
RetiredOctober 6, 1994
Medal record
Representing  Soviet Union
Men's Artistic Gymnastics
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1988 Seoul Team
Gold medal – first place 1988 Seoul Horizontal bar
Silver medal – second place 1988 Seoul All-around
Silver medal – second place 1988 Seoul Parallel bars
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1987 Rotterdam Team
Gold medal – first place 1991 Indianapolis Team
Bronze medal – third place 1991 Indianapolis All-around
European Championships
Gold medal – first place 1987 Moscow All-Around
Gold medal – first place 1987 Moscow Floor
Gold medal – first place 1987 Moscow Parallel bars
Gold medal – first place 1987 Moscow Horizontal bar
Silver medal – second place 1987 Moscow Rings
Bronze medal – third place 1987 Moscow Vault

Liukin was the first man to do a triple back flip on floor and both a layout Tkatchev and a Jaeger with full twist on high bar.[2] He also has one of the three most difficult skills on floor exercise and second most difficult skills in men's artistic gymnastics named after him, the Liukin or triple back (tucked) somersault, which has a difficulty score of H (0.8).

Liukin moved to the United States in 1992 and became a U.S. citizen in 2000. He is married to Anna Kotchneva, and is the father and coach of 2008 Olympic champion Nastia Liukin. He is co-owner of the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy with longtime friend Yevgeny Marchenko.

On 15 December 2015, it was announced that Liukin had been inducted as a part of the 2016 class of the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.[3]

From 16 September 2016 to 2 February 2018, he was the coordinator for the United States women's national gymnastics team, replacing Márta Károlyi.[4][5][6]

He coached the Brazilian women's gymnastics team as of 2018.[7]



Liukin began gymnastics when he was 7 years old. He moved to Moscow to join the Soviet Junior National team, where he made his world debut at the 1985 Friendship Cup. Coached by Eduard Yarov, Liukin was a member of the Soviet Union National Team until the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union.[citation needed]


At the 1987 European Championships in Moscow, he won gold medals in the all-around, on the horizontal bar, and in the floor exercise where he was the first gymnast to perform a triple back somersault. He won the silver medal on the still rings and the bronze on the vault. At the 1987 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Rotterdam, he won the team competition with the Soviet Union.[citation needed] At the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, Liukin won the gold medal in the team competition, and was the co-champion on the horizontal bar with fellow Soviet gymnast Vladimir Artemov. Liukin won the silver medal in the all-around and on the parallel bars.[citation needed] At the 1991 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Indianapolis, he again was a member of the champion Soviet team in the Team competition. He won the bronze medal in the All-Around.[citation needed]

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Liukin competed for his native Kazakhstan, most notably at the 1993 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships and the 1994 Asian Games, but did not win a medal at either competition.[citation needed]


Valeri Liukin spotting for his daughter, Nastia, during the 2008 Summer Olympics

Liukin coached USA's second consecutive all around Olympic champion, his daughter, Nastia Liukin, to the 2008 Summer Olympics.[8] In addition, Nastia contributed to team USA's silver medal finish in the team competition. She also earned silver on uneven bars, silver on balance beam, and bronze in the floor exercise.[citation needed]

Notable gymnasts trained by Liukin include 2010 National Champion and 6-time world medalist Rebecca Bross as well as 2011 junior National champion and 2013 American Cup champion Katelyn Ohashi. Bross placed second in the all-around competition at the World Championships in London 2009 and teammate Ivana Hong placed third in the beam competition. However, Rebecca Bross and Nastia Liukin both failed to qualify for the London 2012 Olympic team. This resulted in Liukin's retirement from international and senior competition. Ohashi was too young to meet the eligibility criteria to compete in the Olympics. Bross's current gymnastics career status is "undecided", though she remains a coach at her old gym.[9]

Liukin was the International Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2004. He was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2005.[10]

On 16 September 2016, he was named the coordinator for the United States women's national gymnastics team, replacing the retiring Márta Károlyi.[4] On February 2, 2018, Liukin resigned from this role amid the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal.[11][12][13]


Racial commentsEdit

In a 2019 interview, Liukin made the following comments about black gymnasts: "But yes, gymnastics is changing. In the Code of Points, difficulty is very valued now. Of course, this suits African Americans. They’re very explosive – look at the NBA, who’s playing and jumping there?"[14]

Weight shamingEdit

Several gymnasts trained by Liukin, including Megan Marenghi, Katelyn Ohashi, and Vanessa Atler, have come forward and accused Liukin of repeatedly shaming them about their weight even as young adolescents, leading several of them to develop eating disorders and depression.[15]

SafeSport investigationEdit

In 2022, Liukin was to head Team USA at an international competition in Germany while under investigation by the United States Center for SafeSport for allegedly verbally and psychologically abusing athletes and pressuring them to train or compete with broken bones or while ill, some when they were as young as 10 years old.[16][17][18]

Personal lifeEdit

He married Anna Kotchneva, a 1987 World Champion rhythmic gymnast, while still competing himself. Their daughter, Nastia Liukin, was born in Moscow in 1989. In 1992, Liukin moved to the United States and began a coaching career. Liukin originally settled in New Orleans, but later moved to Plano, Texas.[citation needed]

Liukin owns and runs three World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA) locations with business partner Yevgeny Marchenko.[2]

He had a small cameo in the film Stick It as the spotter in his daughter's uneven bars routine.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Hairopoulos, Kate (15 August 2008). "Parents' support, coaching and great DNA helped make gymnast Nastia Liukin an Olympian". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 5 September 2008.
  2. ^ a b "Valeri Viktorovich Liukin bio". Premier Management Group Sports. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  3. ^ USA Gymnastics announces 2016 USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame Class. (15 December 2015)
  4. ^ a b "USA Gymnastics names Liukin as women's national team coordinator". USA Gymnastics. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  5. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Valery Lyukin". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020.
  6. ^[bare URL]
  7. ^ "The names are familiar but the uniforms are different for longtime staples of US program". USA Today.
  8. ^ Zaccardi, Nick (27 July 2011). "One Year Out: Bross could become U.S.' third straight golden gymnast". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  9. ^ Lawrence, Blythe (15 March 2012). "Top junior in the U.S. to display her talents". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Valery Liukin (USSR)". The International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  11. ^ "Valeri Liukin steps down as U.S. women's gymnastics team coordinator". ESPN. 2 February 2018.
  12. ^ "Valeri Liukin resigning from role with U.S. women's gymnastics team". USA Today. 2 February 2018.
  13. ^ "U.S. Women's Gymnastics Coordinator Valeri Liukin Suddenly Resigns". Deadspin. 2 February 2018.
  14. ^ "VALERI LIUKIN: I'M MORE PROUD OF NASTIA'S MEDALS THAN MY OWN". Gymnovosti. 2 August 2019.
  15. ^ "USA Gymnastics coordinator Valeri Liukin's gym not immune to criticism for abuse". IndyStar. 11 February 2018.
  16. ^ "Valeri Liukin to coach Team USA while under SafeSport investigation for abuse". 14 March 2022.
  17. ^ "Valeri Liukin, front-runner for top USA Gymnastics post, is being investigated for alleged verbal and mental abuse". 3 March 2022.
  18. ^ "What The Hell Is USAG Even Doing?". Defector. 16 March 2022.

External linksEdit