"I am really excited to be included as one of the top people to watch," said Liukin, 17, who is coached by her father, Valeri, a two-time Olympic champion. "It is a great honor to be chosen and recognized as the only female athlete."
"Nastia is one of the best gymnasts in the world and the recognition is well deserved," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "In competition, Nastia is known for her style and grace, as well as her competitive fire and team spirit. Out of the gym, Nastia is an outstanding high school student and typical teenager. She is an excellent ambassador for our sport, and we are thrilled that more people will get to know Nastia through Newsweek’s feature."
The photo in the piece shows Liukin on the balance beam in front of a barbecue restaurant and was taken on a day when the temperature was in the 40s.
"I had so much fun at the photo shoot," said Liukin "It was cold, but I consider this an honor that deserved my best. I hope my fans like the picture and story."
"Nastia’s talent and grace in competition are only surpassed by her poise and presence as an ambassador for Visa and USA Gymnastics," said Michael Lynch, senior vice president, Visa USA. "We are so proud to have her in the Visa family, and we look forward to watching her represent America in Beijing."
In 2006, Liukin won her second straight U.S. senior all-around title at the Visa Championships, where she also was first in both the uneven bars and balance beam. Despite an injured ankle, Liukin helped her team win the team silver medal at the 2006 World Championships, where she also claimed the uneven bars silver medal. Earlier in the year, she won the all-around title at the Tyson American Cup, one of the most prestigious invitationals in the world. At the Pacific Alliance Championships, she was a member of the gold-medal-winning team, as well as won the uneven bars title and tied for first in the all-around. At the 2005 World Championships, she won the gold medal for both the uneven bars and balance beam and the silver medal for the all-around and floor exercise. In the all-around, she finished just 0.001 behind teammate Chellsie Memmel, posting the closest margin of victory in the event’s history except for a tie.
She is a senior at Spring Creek Academy and trains at WOGA, where both of her parents are coaches. Her father won four medals at the 1988 Olympic Games, including two gold, and her mother, Anna, was a 1987 rhythmic gymnastics world champion.
Based in Indianapolis, USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for the sport of gymnastics in the United States. Its mission is to encourage participation and the pursuit of excellence in the sport.
For more information about USA Gymnastics and its programs, access USA Gymnastics online at www.usa-gymnastics.org.