Nastia Liukin, Special to NBC Olympics
It’s crazy to know another Olympic Games is already here. Beijing seems like it was just last year, but at the same time it feels like a lifetime ago. I have had so many wonderful opportunities and moments since then. One of those came just a few weeks ago, in San Jose at the Olympic Trials.
Less than a year ago, I decided I wanted to take a shot at qualifying for a second Olympic Team. So after taking three years off from competitive gymnastics, I got myself back in the gym to see where it would take me. It wasn’t easy. I battled a shoulder injury along the journey, and daily aches and pains. But I knew this was something I wanted to do. I wanted to look back at this time and know I gave it my all, and didn’t want to have any regrets.
Although, I came up short of making my second Olympic team, I will forever remember the last few moments of my competitive career. I fell off the uneven bars, and knew at the moment I had no chance of making the team. The easy way out would have been to not finish my routine, and simply scratch the rest of the competition. At that moment, it wasn’t about making the team anymore. It was about finishing what I had started. I got myself back up, finished my bar routine and looked into the crowd to see 18,000 people all on their feet, cheering for me.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was in complete shock. It made me realize that in 2008, people cheered me on for my performances. That clearly wasn’t the case at that moment. I got the sense that people were cheering me on for different reasons. That was so heartwarming for me.
I knew I had one last routine on the beam. I wanted to take in every single moment, knowing this would probably be the last time I would compete in front of thousands. I performed a pretty good routine, and finished to yet ANOTHER standing ovation. Once again, I was in complete shock. All of the sudden I got so emotional, seeing all these people on their feet. I had never in my life had a standing ovation, and to get TWO standing ovations was something that I will always remember. I am forever grateful for that moment in San Jose.
Many times in life it’s not about the triumph, it really is how you handle the struggles. I learned a lot about myself that day.
Today, as I’m London, I couldn’t be more excited to cheer on Team USA. It’s been such a thrill for me to watch Jordyn, Gabby, Aly, McKayla and Kyla progress through the years and now the whole world will get to see just how talented these girls truly are.
As the Athlete Representative for the International Gymnastics Federation, I also look forward to supporting gymnasts from all over the world. I will also be covering every aspect of the Games (not just gymnastics!) for NBCOlympics.com. Keep checking back as I experience the Olympics from the other side of the camera…
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.