INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., Aug. 31, 2009 – 2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin of Parker, Texas, has withdrawn her name from consideration for selection to the U.S. Team for the 2009 World Championships, Oct. 13-18, in London, England. The first selection camp for the women’s team is slated to start on Sept. 8 at the Women’s National Team Training Center in Huntsville, Texas.
“I have given a lot of thought to this since the 2009 Visa Championships,” said Liukin, who competed in the Visa Championships in Dallas earlier this month. “Getting back into the gym and competition has been a major goal for me this summer, and I have worked hard to balance my training and obligations. This past year has been wonderful and a whirlwind. With the selection process for Worlds beginning next week, I realized I need to take some time to get myself where I need and want to be competitively. Competing at a World Championships is an incredible experience, and I look forward to supporting my teammates as they prepare for London.
“The 2012 Olympics in London remain an important goal for me. I have more to accomplish in this sport.”
Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics, said, “We totally support Nastia’s decision regarding this year’s World Championships. This is just another example of the integrity and sportsmanship that is an integral part of Nastia. We look forward to her continued participation at a high level and are confident that she is making a decision that is in her and the team’s best interest.”
Martha Karolyi, the women’s national team coordinator for USA Gymnastics, said, “Nastia is the reigning Olympic champion and has proven to be one of the best gymnasts in history. We appreciate her making a decision that is right for her, as well as putting the goals of her teammates ahead of her own. We look forward to working with Nastia on her return to competitive gymnastics when she is ready.”
Nastia Liukin Press Conference Comments
On the decision to withdraw from contention
"After thinking about this for quite a while now, I sat down with my parents and decided that because of my obligations and the travel I’ve been doing that I wasn’t going to represent Team USA and USA Gymnastics if I wasn’t at my best, and my best is being able to go out and compete for a gold medal. I knew that at this point in my career that I’m not physically capable of doing that at the world championships…This is by no means a retirement, it just means that I am taking some time off to rest my mind and take that break that I haven’t really had since the Olympics.
"I was (spread too thin), and I thought I would be able to balance everything out. But I’ve never experienced anything like this before, all the things that come with being an Olympic Champion. I have declined so many opportunities because I wanted to continue to train and try to prepare for World Championships. I gave it all I had, and I gave it my best to try and prepare, but unfortunately the time is coming too fast and the traveling just didn’t stop quite soon enough.
"I will definitely stay involved with the national team. I will still be traveling down to both selection camps to support my teammates and be there for them as much as possible because they mean so much to me. They were also another part of my decision, and being able to give some of the other girls such as my personal teammates Rebecca (Bross) and Ivana (Hong) an opportunity to compete at a World Championships. Because I have competed at so many different competitions and World Championships, that experience would be so much more important for them than it would be for me."
On her support network
"I talked to my parents over the weekend and called Kathy Kelly and Steve Penny…and even tracked down Martha’s number in Romania…It was definitely very hard for me to tell her. I know how much support USA Gymnastics has given me…especially Martha, she’s been there by my side throughout my entire career and has always supported me no matter what and still supports me.
"I did talk to my dad, and we made the decision that it would be best for me, and not only me, but the rest of the team …my dad has been by my side throughout this whole process, and I couldn’t be more thankful that he and my mom and my agent, Evan, have supported me through this entire journey. It hasn’t been easy."
On her future
"This decision has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of my career; it is based on just this year and World Championships. I do just need some time off, and I just wasn’t quite ready and didn’t have enough time to prepare for the World Championships that are going to be in about a month.
"I am looking forward to the next few years in the sport, and no matter what I do decide, my heart is in gymnastics for the rest of my life no matter how many more years I compete."