Quick Chat- Nastia Knows
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Entering her first multi-event competition since 2008, defending Olympic All Around Champ Nastia Liukin approaches 2012 a bit differently. Focusing on uneven bars and balance beam only this time around, the flashy Parker, Texas native is candid about the journey she’s traveled to get back to Olympic shape.
By Evan Heiter & team
By Evan Heiter & team
Inside Gymnastics chatted with Nastia before Wednesday’s podium training session.
Inside: Did it feel like the old days competing at U.S. Classic?
Nastia: It did. The first few days I was really nervous and felt a little bit out of place, but as soon as I walked into the arena in my competition leotard, as soon as I got up on the beam, even for warm up, I felt confident again. I felt a little bit like the old Nastia, and it was a good feeling, and it was a good start to this season.
Inside: Talk about the need for the U.S. and Martha Karolyi to have an uneven bars score near 16.0
Nastia: I said okay because I knew that was [just] Martha. Those are the expectations, but I think it’s also very important to take it one step at a time. So obviously, it’ll probably be a little bit difficult to get close to that score here at nationals, but I think, hopefully, possibly adding a few more tenths at Trials. It’s definitely realistic. She’s obviously very right. You can’t just do a mediocre beam routine and just a normal bar routine because anybody can do that these days, and they also have two other events. Why risk a gymnast with just two events if they’re not able to shine and be above the bar on everyone else.
Inside: That being said, how much extra time, if any, have you been spending on bars as of late.
Nastia: Actually, not too much more time, but I guess right after we got back from Classics is when I really started connecting routines, so it’s been very quick and all of a sudden I was packing my bags again, which made it a little scary. I think it’s just really trying to take it one day at a time and use this training week and these training sessions as preparation and not just getting ready for a competition. This is a lead up, and it’s about peaking at the right time and it’s preparing at the right time.
Inside: And balance beam?
Nastia: I think with my beam routine, getting all my connections and my difficulty but at the same time striving for the 9.0-9.5 execution. I guess the same on bars– a 9.0 would be good for execution. It’s very hard to tell because I haven’t competed in a while, so I don’t know how it’s all going to go down. I’m just really trying to do the same thing I’ve been doing in training, but we’ll see.
Inside: How has your mindset shifted from where it was in 2008, compared to now in 2012?
Nastia: I think in 2008, it was a little bit different because I was at the peak and prime of my career, so it felt like– I wouldn’t say everybody was guaranteed a spot– but I was a little bit more confident going into Olympic Trials, knowing the top two in the all around would automatically make the team. I felt pretty confident that I could achieve that top two spot. Now, going into this one, it’s about peaking at the right time but at the same time, being good enough and having start values and especially your execution scores high enough to be considered as being able to be one of those five spots because five spots is not enough when you’re looking at a full team. It’s very hard to take somebody with just two events, so I know that it has to be above everybody else to even be considered.
Nastia recognizes the task at hand is a challenge of great magnitude, perhaps even more difficult that making her first Olympic team in 2008. However, we'll soon know where she's at on both her events in preparations for London. Stay tuned to Inside Gymnastics all weekend long as we cover every angle of the 2012 VISA Championships!
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