Friday, August 15, 2008

Teamwork and Collaboration Turns to Gold

"Just hearing ‘Olympic champion' next to my name is the greatest feeling in the world," ---Nastia Liukin, USA gymnast and 2008 Beijing Olympics champion in the women’s all-around gymnastics competition.

Nastia Liukin, gold medal winner in the all-around and Shawn Johnson, silver medal winner are genuine friends. Eighteen-year-old Nastia, from Texas, and 16-year-old Shawn, from Iowa, have been roommates in the Olympic village. Now they are linked together forever in Olympic history as gold and silver medal winners.

"We both supported each other 100 percent, and we just wanted to go out there and give it our all and have fun, because this is the games," Liukin said. "There is nothing bigger or greater than this."

"We push each other both to the limit. The few years that we have competed with each other, we've both wanted it so bad that we push each other so much. I think that we became better and stronger gymnasts because of each other.

"I think if it had just been one of us, there wouldn't be someone chasing your tail, wanting you to make you work even harder.

"So I think we have both made each other a stronger athlete, a stronger person,” said Liukin.

"I gave my heart and soul out there today. Nastia deserved the gold."
--Shawn Johnson.

"I feel like this journey has been so long, There have been so many battles and injuries, just to be at the Olympic Games is amazing,” said Liukin, looking back at her struggles.

To give Nastia a sprinkle of additional motivation during Liukin’s Olympic preparation, Nastia’s mother, Anna, a former rhythmic gymnast, had an idea. She brought Nastia’s father’s Russian men's gymnastics gold medal from 20 years ago to Nastia's room.

"One day she came up there and she brought up his Olympic gold medal and just kind of hung it on the little board, next to it, so I saw it every single day when I woke up and it just gave me that extra motivation. Just having it there in my room, knowing that in a few months, hopefully, I can have one of these of my own,” Nastia said.

Discussing her frame of mind when competing for the gold in the all-round medal round in Beijing, Nastia stated, "I knew I would have to go for it. I wasn't thinking about whether I could make it, but how I could make it. This is what my father taught me."

Excerpts taken from and New York Times.
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