by Anna Rose Johnson

In honor of 2008 Olympic Champion Nastia Liukin’s 28th birthday, we’re looking back at five glorious moments in her illustrious gymnastics journey. Known for her ballerina style and impeccable lines, Liukin remains a fan favorite and a role model for young gymnasts everywhere.

2005 WORLD BARS GOLD

2005 marked Liukin’s debut World Championships at age 16. In the fascinating all-around final, Liukin soared to silver by the slimmest of margins behind teammate Chellsie Memmel, and she won balance beam gold later in the week. Liukin was victorious on uneven bars as well with this fluid, high-flying performance:

2005 WORLD BEAM GOLD

The 2007 World Championships were a somewhat difficult competition for Liukin, who had struggled with injuries for a year leading up to this meet. She helped her team to gold but faltered in the all-around final, finishing in fifth place. But in the balance beam final, she showcased her tremendous flexibility and focus to capture gold with a massive 16.025.

2008 OLYMPIC AA FLOOR

One of the most iconic floor routines in U.S. history, this classical masterpiece clinched the all-around gold for Liukin in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Infusing old-school style with near-flawless tumbling and attention to detail, Liukin’s throwback routine set a new standard for artistry in the coming years.

2008 OLYMPIC BARS SILVER

The Beijing bars final was one of the most controversial moments in recent Olympic gymnastics history. Liukin and China’s He Kexin tied for the top score (16.725) with their distinctly different, but equally exquisite routines. After a complex tie-breaking process, Liukin was awarded the silver medal for this magnificent performance:

2012 OLYMPIC TRIALS BEAM

Liukin took a significant break from the competitive gymnastics scene after Beijing. She competed only on beam at the 2009 Visa Championships and didn’t return until summer 2012, where she made a bid for London as a two-event specialist. While Liukin’s inconsistency on uneven bars prevented her from making the Olympic team, she closed her captivating career with a steady beam routine that will remain in her fans’ hearts forever:

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