This June, the 2012 Olympic gymnastics trials will come to Santa Clara. The nation’s top gymnasts will convene at HP Pavilion and the US Olympic team will be named. To create extra excitement for this major event, USA Gymnastics sent medal-winning elite athlete Nastia Liukin to Airborne Gymnastics on March 15.
Liukin, the all-around gold medalist at the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, China, arrived just after 2 p.m. to meet an enthusiastic group of aspiring gymnasts and their families.
During her brief talk, Liukin discussed her time off from gymnastics, injuries, doubts, fears, and even her desire to quit along the way to becoming the silver medalist in uneven bars and balance beam, bronze medalist in floor exercises and receiving a silver medal as a member of team USA in 2008.
“There were definitely times when I [wanted to quit] but those times mostly came when I was struggling or having a hard day. And something that my mom taught me, and I’ll remember for the rest of my life not just in gymnastics but in life in general. You know, as you grow older and you get jobs or whatever it is that you decide to do for the rest of your life, she always told me that you can never quit on a bad day,” said Liukin. “And, that is something that has stuck with me forever. I had multiple bad days and I told her I wanted to quit and she said you can quit if you want but you have to have a good day before you quit. And the minute, the day, that I had a good day, I never wanted to quit because gymnastics is something that I love to do. For so many years and to this day I still love gymnastics.”
She discussed the need to set not only an ultimate dream of making an Olympic team, but the need to set monthly, weekly and daily goals because “you don’t get stronger on a day that everything comes easy and you’re able to make your beam routines and your bar routines. It’s those days that are pretty tough but you get yourself through them, those are the days that you become stronger mentally and physically and that’s something that I definitely learned along the way.”
After her talk, Liukin answered questions from the girls about her training schedule (seven hours a day, six days a week), the number of leotards she has (“buckets and buckets”), what she eats before a meet (“chicken or fish, some kind of protein, with some vegetables”) and how she got into the sport (her father was a gold and silver medalist in the 1988 games and her mother was a world champion in rhythmic gymnastics). And, before leaving, Liukin graciously signed autographs, including signing her name to a box of Wheaties from 2008, and posed for photos with the girls to create a memorable experience for everyone involved.