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Karolyi, Liukin, Rybacki join forces to direct women's elite program
posted on 11/05/2012

INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 5, 2012 Acaa USA Gymnastics has reorganized management of the elite program for women's gymnastics, dividing the responsibilities among Martha Karolyi of Huntsville, Texas, Valeri Liukin of Plano, Texas, and Stephen Rybacki of Upland, Calif. Karolyi, the women's national team coordinator since 2001, will continue as national team coordinator with a more exclusive focus on the national team. Beginning in January 2013, Liukin, who has two Olympic gold medals and coached his daughter Nastia to the Olympic all-around title, is the elite athlete development coordinator, and Rybacki is the director of elite athlete programs.

"We believe the partnership of Martha, Valeri and Steve gives USA Gymnastics the dream team to pilot and manage our women's program from development through the elite level and national team," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "Each of them has been integral in the success of our women's team and has demonstrated the ability to work hand-in-hand with our personal coaches to keep our women's program on track."

Karolyi's focus will be on the development and preparation of the women's national team. Since she became national team coordinator in 2001, the U.S. women have enjoyed its most successful period in U.S. history. The women's national team has won 64 World and Olympic medals from 2001-2012, most recently winning the Olympic team and all-around gold medals.

Rybacki, who has served as chairman of the International Elite Coaches Committee and a member of the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors, will oversee the administrative duties for international competition and will travel with U.S. delegations. This includes handling international travel budgets and arrangements; writing selection procedures for World Championships, Pan American Games and Olympic Games; and organizing and implementing other administrative requirements for the national team. Rybacki coached U.S. all-around champion Vanessa Atler and 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Jamie Dantzscher at Gliders Acaa Charter Oak Gymnastics, which he owns. He will remain based in California.

Liukin will direct the women's athlete developmental pipeline. He will handle the curriculum and direct all developmental camps, with a focus on education, as well as oversee the Talent Opportunity Program (TOPs). TOPs is a talent search and educational opportunity for female gymnasts, ages 7-10, and their coaches. The program includes state testing for physical abilities and skills, with the top-ranked participants advancing to the TOPs National Testing conducted at the USA Gymnastics Women's National Team Training Center, a U.S. Olympic Training site, in Houston. Based on national testing results, athletes are named to the TOPs National Team and invited to participate in a training camp. Liukin is a co-founder and owner of World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA), which produced two Olympic all-around champions - Carly Patterson (2004) and Nastia Liukin (2008). He will remain based in Texas.

Brief biographies on Valeri Liukin, Stephen Rybacki

  • Valeri Liukin Acaa Liukin is a co-founder and owner of the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA), where he is the head women's coach. He was the coach for Nastia Liukin, who won the 2008 Olympic all-around title and has five Olympic and nine World medals to her credit; Rebecca Bross, who has six World medals; and Katelyn Ohashi, who has five U.S. junior titles including the 2011 all-around crown. His coaching accomplishments and accolades include: U.S. National Team coach, 1998-2011; International Coach of the Year, 2002, 2004; International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, 2005; USA Gymnastics Coach of the Year, 2006; U.S. Team head coach, 2007 Pan American Games; 2008 U.S. Olympic Team coach; and 2009 International Gymnastics Coach of the Year. As an athlete, Liukin was a member of the Soviet National Team from 1985-92. During his career, he won two gold and two silver medals at the 1988 Olympic Games; five gold medals at the 1990 Goodwill Games; and gold and silver medals at the 1987-91 World Championships. He was the first gymnast to perform a triple back flip on floor and has a horizontal bar skill named after him.

  • Stephen Rybacki Acaa Rybacki is a director and owner of Gliders Acaa Charter Oak Gymnastics. He coached 2004 Olympic alternate Allyse Ishino, 2001 World Championships team bronze-medalist Tabitha Yim, 2000 Olympic team bronze-medalist Jamie Dantzscher and 1997 U.S. all-around champion Vanessa Atler. A member of the U.S. National Team coaching staff, he has served as chairman of the International Elite Coaches Committee and the women's gymnastics director on the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors. He was the assistant coach for the 2000 Olympic Games and head coach of the 2001 World Championships, where the USA won the team bronze medal. Rybacki is the vice president of the Elite Coaches Association. He also was the 1999-2000 Junior National Elite Coach of the Year; 1997 National Gymnastics Coach of the Year; 1996 Elite Coaches Association Coach of the Year; and 1996 National USOC Developmental Coach of the Year.