© John Cheng

2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin is one of 11 women cited by MSN.com Lifestyle in its 2009 list of influential women, who come from a variety of backgrounds. According to the story on msn.com, their common trait is doing something that inspires, encourages and influences the way people live their lives.

In the write up about Liukin, the Web site talks about her efforts after Hurricane Ike to help World Vision clean-up efforts. In addition, her charitable efforts include helping with Special Olympics, Susan G Komen Race for the Cure, toy drives and raising support for the women’s gymnastics team at Cal State Fullerton. Idolized by young gymnasts around the world, Liukin often speaks to young women about the importance of self-esteem, physical fitness and pursuing their dreams, as well as to school students as part of the DARE program. In the gymnastics world, she is best known for her efforts on the podium – nine world and five Olympic medals, along with numerous U.S. titles. Her five medals in Beijing – one gold, three silver and one bronze – were the most by any gymnast. She was recently elected as an athlete representative for the International Gymnastics Federation.

Liukin is in august company on this year’s list. The other women chosen are: Hilary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State; ; Angelina Jolie, actor; Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma’s National League for Democracy (NLD); Magodonga Mahlangu, recipient of the 2009 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award and rights advocate in Zimbabwe; Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany; Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, U.S. House of Representatives; Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court justice; Taylor Swift, musical artist; Alice Waters, chef, author, restaurant promoter and community activist; and Oprah Winfrey, Emmy-winning television personality, Oscar-nominated actress, magazine publisher and owner of her own production company.