USA Gymnastics names Liukin as women's national team coordinator
posted on 09/16/2016

© John Cheng

INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 16, 2016 – Two-time Olympic champion Valeri Liukin of Parker, Texas, has been named the U.S. Women’s National Team coordinator, USA Gymnastics announced today. Liukin, who has served as the elite developmental coordinator since 2013, is perhaps best-known as the personal coach for Nastia Liukin, who won the 2008 Olympic all-around title and has five Olympic and nine World career medals. Liukin, who will remain based in Texas, will report to Rhonda Faehn, senior vice president of women’s program for USA Gymnastics.

“Valeri has excelled as a personal coach, and he has demonstrated his ability to lead and guide other coaches through his efforts as the elite developmental coordinator,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “He will provide a smooth transition from the program that has been created, and Valeri is recognized as a capable and talented coach.”

Faehn said, “Valeri already has been working with future national team members for 2020 and 2024 as the elite developmental coordinator. He is known for his coaching techniques and his willingness to share that knowledge with upcoming coaches. As a personal coach and developmental coordinator, Valeri has been involved in the semi-centralized system that has achieved the USA’s greatest international results and already has a strong working relationship with the country’s top coaches on the senior, junior and developmental levels. Valeri and I share a vision for the continued success of USA Gymnastics.”

“I am very honored to accept the position of national team coordinator,” said Liukin. “I'm ready to put all of my knowledge and passion into leading the women's national team to continued success.”

As the U.S. Women’s National Team coordinator, Liukin will develop the strategic plan and training program for all members of the U.S. Women’s National Team, including conducting national team training camps; attending national and international competitions as needed; overseeing international competition assignments for athletes, coaches and judges; coordinating scheduling and activities for the developmental program and the Talent Opportunity Program (TOPs); and working with the national coaching staff. He is just the third person to serve as the U.S. women’s national team coordinator, following Martha Karolyi (2001-16) and Bela Karolyi (1999-2000).

Most recently, Liukin directed the women's athlete developmental program as the elite developmental coordinator.

Liukin is a co-founder and owner of the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA), which has produced more than 30 national team members and 35 World and Olympic medals, including Olympic all-around champions Carly Patterson in 2004 and Nastia Liukin in 2008 and 2016 Olympic team gold and uneven bars silver medalist Madison Kocian. He was the personal 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; Ivana Hong, 2009 World balance beam bronze medalist; and Katelyn Ohashi, 2013 AT&T American Cup champion and 2011 U.S. junior all-around gold medalist. 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; 2009 International Gymnastics Coach of the Year; and USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame (2016).

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; two gold medals and one silver at the 1987-91 World Championships; and four gold, one silver and one bronze at the European Championships. He was the first gymnast to perform a triple back flip on floor and has a horizontal bar skill named after him.

Liukin earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Kazakh Academy of Sport and Tourism in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

USA Gymnastics clarification

In response to some questions we have received, below is a statement from Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics, regarding the potential for conflict of interest.

“Valeri Liukin’s primary role as national team coordinator is to oversee the preparation of our team for international competition. He has not been coaching individual athletes since he became our developmental coordinator, and the feedback we have received from the coaches involved has been extremely positive.

“Throughout our discussions, we have been entirely upfront with Valeri about the potential for conflict of interest. It is the responsibility of USA Gymnastics to ensure a fair and conflict-free environment for the selection of the teams that represent our country, and we are 100% committed to that concept. This can be achieved in a number of ways, and as we move forward, we will work closely with the national team coaches, the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors, and the United States Olympic Committee to address this topic.

“Fundamentally, the three basic principles at the foundation of our understanding are:
  1. Valeri will not coach individual athletes
  2. WOGA may not accept elite athlete transfers from other gyms without the express written consent of the athlete’s previous club.
  3. While the national team coordinator position does have a voting role on the selection committee, this role could be reduced to voice/no vote in the event a WOGA athlete is under consideration for a position.
“USA Gymnastics is in a unique position with respect to the most qualified finalists for this position have vested interests in private gymnastics clubs. I have complete faith and trust that we will be able to work within our structure to capitalize on Valeri’s leadership and experience to keep the women’s team at the top of the podium into the future.”