Liukin brings home the gold her father nearly had
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Her floor routine was spectacular. The 18-year-old’s usually stoic expression melted away with each landed tumbling pass. On her final pass, Liukin landed, raised her arms and smiled, something she rarely — if ever — does while performing. It was hard not to smile along with her. As she walked off the floor, Liukin walked to her teammate and slapped hands. For a moment, they looked into each other’s eyes, a moment of silent acknowledgement of the long road both women had taken to get to this point.
“When I saw her score come up, I knew I couldn’t score six-tenths higher,” Johnson said, her chin shaking as she spoke to the media. “So going into floor, I didn’t care about score or placement anymore. I just wanted to finish my Olympic experience as best I could.”
Just like her teammate, Johnson finished the competition with a flawless routine, then walked to her teammate and gave her a hug. “Nastia has been around a long time and has a lot of experience and she deserves the gold,” Johnson said. “I was meant to have the silver.”
Liukin is only the third American woman to win the all-around; Carly Patterson (2004) and Mary Lou Retton (1984) are the others.
But perhaps this is not Johnson’s final chance at individual gold.
After the meet, both gymnasts retracted earlier comments that this Olympics would mark the end of their careers.
“Now she is thinking to keep going,” Valeri said of his daughter.
Then, during the news conference, Johnson said she’d changed her mind, too.
“A month ago, I would have said I was done,” Johnson said. “But after being here, I would give anything to feel this way again.” ESPN