Nastia Liukin London Bid, The 22-year-old will compete for the first time in three years at the US Classic in Chicago in less than two weeks, but is battling to hose down expectations even as her anticipation grows.
“I’m trying not to have too many expectations because it has been quite a few years since I’ve competed, but my excitement is building,” Liukin told a throng of reporters at the US Olympic Media Summit on Monday.
“Walking home and walking up my stairs and being so exhausted you can hardly walk, that’s the best feeling now. It’s a sense of accomplishment of the day.”
Two weeks after the Classic, Liukin heads to the national championships where she will have to produce good enough results to qualify for the Olympic trials at the end of June in San Jose, California.
Wearing mini black shorts under a red team jersey, and perched on black, platform shoes with five-inch heels, Liukin projected a touch of glamour among other gymnastic hopefuls decked out in sweatsuits and warm-up jackets early in the morning.
The daughter of double Olympic gold medallist Valeri Liukin and rhythmic gymnast Anna Kotchnova, who emigrated to the United States from the then-Soviet Union, Liukin won five Olympic medals at Beijing.
Apart from the coveted all-around title, Liukin clinched women’s team silver, individual silvers on the beam and the bars, and a bronze in the floor exercise.
Despite her star quality and undeniable pedigree, Liukin knows reputation alone will not carry her onto the US team and will have to battle the younger gymnasts who teamed up to win world championship honors last October in Tokyo.
Teams are now comprised of five members rather than six, and selectors must find the right combination to thrive in the team event, in which three scores must be counted in each discipline.
Liukin will focus on her two best events, the uneven bars and balance beam, in her bid to impress the selectors. (BusinessWorld Online Edition)