Golden Girl of Beijing Isn't Ready to Call It Quits

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Nastia Liukin will compete in her strongest events -- the balance beam and the uneven bars -- at the Visa Championships this week in Dallas.

    Nastia Liukin is returning to the gymnastics stage on home court.

    While many people told her she should retire, the Olympic gold medalist says she wants to "give it one more shot."

    Nastia Wants One More Olympic Shot

    [DFW] Nastia Wants One More Olympic Shot
    The Olympic gold medalist says she's not ready to retire. (Published Wednesday, Aug 12, 2009)

    "Of course, I thought about it, and it is a lot of hard work," Liukin said.

    Her shot begins Thursday night at the Visa Championships, which are being held this year in Dallas' American Airlines Center.

    "I purely love to do gymnastics, I love traveling, I love being part of a team, and I love representing my country internationally," Liukin said.

    After winning five gold medals in the 2008 Summer Games, including the gold in the all-around, Liukin took some time off. She traveled the world, went on a 38-city tour and even did some modeling and acting.

    "Being able to take that time off and being able to be away from the gym for a little bit really helped me find a love for the sport again, and I just think I really needed that break," she said.

    But she said she's glad to be back where she belongs -- in the gym where she grew up.

    "This is like my second home; more like my first home, because I spend more time here than I do at my actual house," Liukin said. "It's where I feel most comfortable, and I love being here."

    Now she's working hard to get back in the swing of things.

    "It was pretty hard getting back in the gym, and you know still trying to get back in shape," she said.

    Liukin, now 19, is also nearly an inch taller than she was in Beijing, which can make an already difficult sport even more challenging, her father and coach said.

    "They're becoming young women, and obviously they're different, totally different -- they're a little slower than the little girls," Valeri Liukin said.

    Nastia Liukin said her goal is to compete in another Olympics.

    "It's not easy for me," Valeri Liukin said with a laugh. "I don't think she's ready to stop. I think this is her world."

    Despite her ambition, Nastia Liukin also said she has nothing to prove.

    "I know that no matter what happens, I still have those five Olympic medals," she said. "If I make it to the next Olympics, great -- and if I don't, then I know I'm already proud of what I've accomplished."

    Because she is still getting back into shape, Liukin will only compete in her strongest events -- the uneven bars and the balance beam -- at the Visa Championships.

    She said she is excited but also nervous to compete in front of a hometown crowd. And she will have plenty of competition.

    Round one of competition for Liukin and the senior women is Thursday at 7 p.m.

    Round two is Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Live coverage will air on NBC 5 beginning at 7 p.m.