Nastia Liukin is living the dream of many an American teenage girl. Sure, that Olympic gold medal was nice, but get this: She's set to appear on "Gossip Girl."
To the 18-year-old Liukin, a lifetime of preparation made her all-around gymnastics championship in Beijing the ultimate achievement. But she's learning there are some fun perks that come with her title.
Liukin, who is from Parker in Collin County, was honored Tuesday as the Women's Sports Foundation's Individual Sportswoman of the Year. A week later, she'll film her part in the popular high school drama.
"It's just something that a bunch of my friends always watch, and so to be able to actually be on there, it's really cool," she said.
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The TV show's producers happened to be sitting at a nearby table when Liukin recently ate at a Los Angeles restaurant. They sent over a note of congratulations; the next day, apparently knowing she was a fan, they contacted her management about a guest spot.
Originally, Liukin was going to appear as herself, but now it looks as though she'll play a fictional character.
"Honestly, I just wanted to meet the cast," she said, laughing.
The first time Liukin watched video of her greatest TV performance — her gold medal-winning routines at the Olympics — she teared up.
"Every time I watch it, even though it's only been a few months, it makes me miss competing already," she said.
She plans to resume training in January. What about defending her title in 2012?
"It's hard to say in terms of what I'll be doing," Liukin said. "It's not out of the question."
Liukin's teammate, all-around silver medalist Shawn Johnson, is more than two years younger and sounding more committed to trying to compete in London.
"Right now, definitely I'm looking towards it," she said Tuesday. "The Olympics is the best feeling ever; if I can get that feeling again, I'd be there in a heartbeat."
U.S. softball player Jessica Mendoza was honored as Team Sportswoman of the Year at the foundation's 29th Annual Salute to Women in Sports.
The WTA Tour earned the Billie Jean King Contribution Award for achieving equitable prize money at all the Grand Slams. Texas Tech thrower Patience Knight, who overcame cancer to become an All-American, won the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award.