Nastia Luikin, gold medalist in the 2008 All-Around gymnastics competition in Beijing, ended her career on a heartbreaking yet inspiring note at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in San Jose on Sunday night. On the uneven bars, an event in which the 22 year-old also won a silver medal in 2008, lost her grip, flipped parallel to the floor, and landed flat on her face. As she faceplanted, the entire stadium audience gasped, then winced, collectively. Liukin, however, handled the tragedy with grace. Take a look at Nastia Liukin’s fall below and keep reading for more information.
Nastia Liukin Falls at the Olympic Trials [VIDEO]
Although injured both physically and emotionally, Liukin revealed her true character. She immediately stood up, fought back tears, waved to the crowd appreciatively, and walked back to her team with her head held high.
“Getting up after a fall is never easy,” she said. “It’s always very tough. It shows your true character if you are able to get up and that’s something I’ve been taught since I was 8 years old.”
For her efforts and remarkable strength she received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Despite not making the 2012 Olympic team, Liukin will still go to London as an athlete representative for the Federation of International Gymnasts.
Liukin, who won the gold medal in the all-around competition and three silver medals in various events in the 2008 Beijing Games, finished 10th on the uneven bars and 7th on the beam during this year’s trials. Considering that no champion Olympic gymnast has participated in back to back games since Nadia Comaneci in 1980, Nastia’s bid to make this year’s U.S. team was an uphill battle from the start.
After the event Liukin reflected on her career. “In 2008 I never really considered myself done and retired,” she said. “It’s emotional because I’ve given myself to this sport. To be here means more to me than anybody will ever know.”