Nastia Liukin Wins Gold In Women’s All-Around

Close to flawless, Liukin wins all-around gold

U.S. teammate Johnson’s strong performance earns silver
Posted Thursday, August 14, 2008 9:55 PM ET

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BEIJING —Nastia Liukin edged teammate Shawn Johnson for the all-around gold in women’s gymnastics at the Beijing Olympics Friday in an intense matchup that lived up to its billing.

Liukin finished with 63.325 points, a mere six-tenths ahead of Johnson, the reigning world champion who beat Liukin at the U.S. championships and Olympic trials only a few weeks ago.

Yang Yilin of China won the bronze.

“It’s amazing, I am kind of speechless right now,” Liukin said. “I don’t think it’s really set in, but I feel like this journey has been so long.”

Liukin paced back and forth as Johnson competed on floor, the final competitor of the day, clapping as her teammate floated high in the air. In the end, it was Liukin who soared. When Johnson’s score was posted and Liukin saw she was the winner tears filled her eyes. Her father and coach Valeri grabbed her in a bearhug, squeezing her tight for several minutes.

Valeri Liukin was a double gold medalist for the Soviet Union 20 years ago, but came up achingly short in a rivalry with his own teammate in the all-around. There would be no such disappointment for his only child.

“It’s not possible to describe how proud I am,” Valeri Liukin said afterward. “It’s just an amazing feeling.”

Liukin blinked back tears with a smile when she was introduced as the gold medalist.

“Standing on the podium and hearing `Olympic champion’ next to my name was a dream come true,” Liukin said. “Everything pays off at this very moment.”

For China, it was the first disappointment on the gymnastics floor. The Chinese won both the men’s and women’s team titles, and Yang Wei ran away with the men’s all-around gold on Thursday.

But this was no surprise.

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