Childhood & Early Life
Nastia Liukin was born Anastasia Valeryevna Liukin, in Moscow, Soviet Union, on October 30, 1989. She was the only child of her parents, Valeri Liukin and Anna Kotchneva, who were both former Soviet gymnasts and members of the Russian Orthodox Church. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, her parents migrated to the US and settled, first in the state of New Orleans and then in Texas.
As a toddler, she often saw her parents working out in the gym and honing their gymnastic skills. She was soon fascinated by the sport. As soon as she started walking, she began training, and by the age of 3, she was already displaying her skills on the bars. In 1994, her father teamed up with fellow Soviet gymnast Yevgeny Marchenko and opened an academy, the ‘World Olympic Gymnastics Academy,’ in Texas.
She participated in her first competition at the age of 6. She managed her practice along with her academics and remained focused on building a career in gymnastics.
After finishing high school from the ‘Spring Creek Academy’ in 2007, she joined the ‘Southern Methodist University,’ where she studied international business. By then, she had already become a famous athlete. She wanted to complete her education, but her busy sports schedule that involved a lot of travel did not allow her to pursue her studies. She later studied sports management and psychology at ‘New York University.’
Continue Reading Below
She participated in her first ‘National Championship’ as a junior at the age of 12. However, she did not perform according to expectations. Despite her less-than-convincing performance on the uneven bars, she competed through the rest of the competition and ended up at the 15th spot, which fixed her a place on the US national Team.
She represented the US in the ‘Junior Pan American Championships’ in 2002, where she contributed to her team winning a gold medal. In the individual competitions, she bagged three silvers: on the uneven bars, the balance beam, and in the all-around event. She emerged as one of the strongest junior gymnasts in the junior division of the ‘US National Championships.’ She walked away with gold medals on the uneven bars, the balance beam, and the floor exercise.
For the 2004 ‘Olympic’ games, she applied to be part of the American national team, but she was not old enough to be part of the senior national team. Her performance was on a par with several senior players. The US national team coordinator stated that she would have easily made it to the national team for the ‘Olympics’ had she been eligible.
She made her senior debut in 2005. In her first ‘National Championship’ as a senior, she earned gold medals on both the uneven bars and the balance beam. At the ‘World Championships’ in Melbourne the same year, she walked away with the silver in the all-around and the floor exercise events. Her winning streak continued as she won gold medals on the balance beam and the uneven bars.
At the 2006 ‘US National Championships,’ she successfully defended her titles in all three segments: bars, beams, and all-around. She thus became a national champion on two consecutive occasions. In 2006, she was a crucial part of the US team that competed in the ‘World Gymnastics Championships.’ She competed despite suffering from an ankle injury and played a major role in her team winning a silver medal on the bars.
For most of 2007, Nastia stayed out of practice, owing to an ankle surgery. She was still recovering in July 2007 when she participated in the ‘Pan American Games’ held in Rio de Janeiro. There, she helped her team win gold medals on the bars and the beam. In the individual rounds, she ended up winning silver medals on both the balance beam and the uneven bars.
The same year, she was selected to be part of the national team to compete at the ‘World Championships’ held in Germany. She played amazingly and helped her team win the gold in the balance beam segment. Despite suffering a fall in the all-around finals, she ended the finals at the fifth spot, which was still respectable, considering the fact that she was still recovering from her injuries.
In 2008, she won the gold medal in the uneven bars segment in the ‘American Cup.’ She further competed in the ‘Pacific Rim’ tournament in San Jose, where she helped her team win the gold. She walked away with the gold in the individual all-around and balance beam events. In the 2008 ‘US National Championships,’ she regained her title on the beam and defended her title on the uneven bars for the fourth consecutive year.
In 2008 she faced the biggest test of her career, when she was made part of the US squad that was to compete in the ‘Olympics.’ She performed according to expectations and earned a gold medal in the women’s all-around competition. She helped her team in securing the silver in the women’s bars and beam events and a bronze medal in the women’s floor exercise segment.
After a successful ‘Olympics’ season, she competed in the ‘Visa Championships,’ where she ended the competition with gold medals in both the balance beam and the uneven bars segments. She earned the silver in the all-around event.
For the next few years, Nastia focused on other aspects of her life and stayed away from gymnastics. Her injuries were nagging her, and taking a break seemed like the best course of action at that moment.
In 2012, she made a brief comeback, but her performance was not as extraordinary as her previous performances. She participated in the 2012 ‘US Secret Classic’ and ended up with a bronze medal in the women’s balance beam segment. The 2012 ‘Olympic’ trials brought an official end to her brief but glorious sports career.
Nastia Liukin released her official autobiography, ‘Finding My Shine,’ in November 2015.
In 2013, she resumed her education and enrolled at ‘New York University,’ where she studied sports management and psychology.
In June 2015, she got engaged to her long-time boyfriend, Matt Lombardi, a former hockey player, and announced it on her ‘Instagram’ profile.