Liukin says she's going for London
Olympic champion Nastia Liukin is going for London.
The gold medalist told The Associated Press on Saturday that she has resumed training with the hope of making the US team for next summer's London Olympics. She doubts she'll do the all-around next year, focusing instead on uneven bars and balance beam, her best events.
''I don't know what's going to happen. But I want to go out there at the end of 2012 knowing I did everything I could and not have any regrets,'' Liukin told the AP. ''I know it's definitely going to be a push and I know there are going to be days when I'm struggling and thinking, 'Why am I doing this?' But because of the passion burning inside of me, I think I just owe it to myself to see if I can do this.''
Liukin, only the third US woman to win the Olympic title, has taken most of the past three years off. She's trained off and on — her family does own three gyms — but wasn't sure as recently as earlier this summer if she wanted to make the commitment another Olympic bid will take. She has a heavy travel schedule because of personal appearances and commercial endorsements, and she's also the athlete representative for the International Gymnastics Federation.
Even at previous gymnastics meets, she was conflicted at the prospect of competing again. But within the last two months, something changed and Liukin realized she still had that competitive spark.
''I'm not just going to be going back to just try and make an Olympic team,'' she said. ''That's never been enough for me, and it's still not enough for me. I feel really different. I feel like a new person this go-round. I've never felt this committed to trying to achieve this goal.''
And Liukin's father and coach, Valeri, is on board — even if he may not have been initially.
Liukin said she began dropping hints to her father earlier in the summer, and his reaction at first was to say how glad he was that his only child was done competing. But he realized she was serious about a comeback when he saw her at the gym day after day after day, without any prompting from him.
And when he saw Liukin start working on uneven bars again, he began putting together a ''crazy'' uneven bars routine for her. Liukin had one of the most difficult uneven bars routines in the world in 2008, and she tied China's He Kexin in the event finals in Beijing. He got the gold medal on a tiebreak, and Liukin got the silver.
''Actions speak much louder than words and I think by showing him I was committed and I was going to gym every day and he didn't have to push me and he didn't have to make me do that, made him believe in it,'' Liukin said. ''He was like, 'I really think you can do this but you have to figure it out, you have to give 100 percent.'''
Liukin plans to start two-a-day workouts when she returns from the world championships. Though she is appearing at the Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular later this month in Moline, Ill., she's curtailed her travel schedule beyond that. She is targeting the CoverGirl Classic next spring for her return to competition.
Though Liukin hasn't told national team Martha Karolyi officially that she's coming back — she wanted to wait until worlds are over — her announcement isn't likely to come as a surprise. When Liukin was at the world selection camp last month — she was on the selection committee — Karolyi walked in while Liukin was working on uneven bars one day.
Bars is the Americans' weakest event, and Liukin's return would give them a huge boost.
''I think it's great,'' USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny said. ''Her being back in the game elevates our program once again.''
Not that Liukin is assuming anything. No one — not even the Olympic champion — is guaranteed anything.
''But I think that I just owe it to myself to try, to give it another shot,'' she said. ''I'm 100 percent committed to trying to make this dream of mine come true. For me, Beijing was more of a destiny I felt like, and London would be more like a dream.''