A Letter to Nastia Liukin

Dear Nastia Liukin,

I had the pleasure of getting to witness, in person, the ladies final of the Olympic Trials for Gymnastics last night.  That also gave me the misfortune of witnessing your fall from the uneven bars.  I can’t imagine what its like to fail so publicly.  The only thing I have to compare it to would be high school sports.  With those crowds filled with a couple hundred people, it doesn’t compare to the 15,000 people in the HP Pavilion or the millions of others watching on from their homes.

I’ll admit that I cried for you.  You had already known that your Olympic dreams for 2012 were over during Day 1 of the competition. Yet you had put on a brave face to finish the night.  You could have easily pulled out of the competition after Friday.  But you didn’t.  You finished what you started.

When you fell off the uneven bars, you hit hard.  Your heart may have even broke in that moment.  But you captured the hearts of 15,000 fans when you dusted yourself off, chalked up, and jumped right back on to complete the move that had just failed you.

When the crowd rose to its feet to support you, I hope you recognized just how very lucky you are.  Most of us won’t ever feel that kind of support. Sure, when we fall nobody may notice.  But whether there are people watching or not, it’s always  hard to get back up and try again.  Most of us won’t ever get a crowd of 15,000 giving love and cheers and energy to help us stand tall.  Most of us will never have thousands of little girls looking up to us as a role model.  Little girls (two who were sitting next to me) who shouted “You can do it, Nastia” and “We believe in you, Nastia” while you finished your routine.  Two little girls whose love and adoration for you brought me to my emotional knees.

I’m sure that today isn’t an easy day as the Olympic team has already been selected. I’m sure having to watch that fall on replay continues to make it sting.  You showed everyone that more often than not, winning has nothing to do with the score that you get but rather in how you play the game.  In my book, you are the winner of the night.


A Mom from San Jose

Photo credit: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY

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  1. July 2, 2012
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