During the uneven bar routine, the 2008 all-around gold medalist slipped and fell face-down onto the mat. She received a standing ovation after climbing back on the bar and finishing her routine.
“It took a lot of courage,” a teary-eyed Liukin said, according to The Wall Street Journal, “I have learned to be a fighter.”
Unfortunately the fight was not good enough for Liukin to make this years U.S. team. She finished 10th on the uneven bars and seventh on the beam during the weekend’s trials.
No Olympic gymnast championhas returned to the next games since Nadia Comaneci in 1980. This year is no different and the team is full of first time Olympic gymnasts. The team includes Gabrielle Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, Alexandra Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross.
The two-day trials included a competitive rivalry between the confident national champion Wieber and the outgoing Douglas.
That battle was won by only one-tenth of a point by Douglas, known as the “Flying Squirrel”. She received the highest score of the event in the uneven bars, a 15.9.
The lack of any veterans to make the team this year could be a sign of how demanding this sport is and proves that younger gymnasts may have an advantage over more older and experienced ones.
For preparation of the competition, Liukin used a routine similar to what she used to prepare for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It included 7 hours at the gym a day, and running two to three miles five times a week.
Liukin said before the trials began that if she didn’t make it she was looking forward to not having to train as much and go to college. Now she has the opportunity to start the next chapter in her life which includes going to NYU in January to study sports management.