Nastia Liukin

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Fan voting starts for U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame

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The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee announced finalists Monday for the organization’s Hall of Fame.

Fans can vote as part of a process that selects five Olympians, three Paralympians and one team from a final list of 15 Olympians, nine Paralympians and three teams. Other voters include U.S. Olympians and Paralympians, national governing bodies and multisport organizations, the USOPC board, select members of the media, and USOPC corporate partners.

The nominees are:

Olympic:

  • Gary Anderson, shooting: Gold medalist in 1964 and 1968
  • Greg Barton, canoe/kayak: First American to win kayaking gold (1988)
  • Laura Berg, softball: Center fielder, gold medalist in 1996, 2000 and 2004
  • Anne Donovan, basketball: Center, gold medalist in 1984 and 1998
  • Lisa Leslie, basketball: Second player to win four Olympic golds (1996-2008)
  • Nastia Liukin, gymnastics: 2008 all-around gold medalist, five total medals
  • John Mayasich, ice hockey: Gold medalist in 1960, leading scorer on silver-medal team in 1956
  • Misty May-Treanor, beach volleyball: Gold medalist (with Kerri Walsh Jennings) in 2004, 2008 and 2012
  • Jonny Moseley, freestyle skiing: Gold medalist in moguls in 1998
  • Apolo Anton Ohno, short-track speed skating: Eight medals in 2002, 2006 and 2010
  • Mark Reynolds, sailing: Gold medalist in 1992 and 2000
  • Angela Ruggiero, ice hockey: Gold medalist in 1998, other medals in 2002, 2006 and 2010, all-time leader in games played
  • John Smith, wrestling: Gold medalist in 1988 and 1992
  • Dara Torres, swimming: 12 medals from 1984 (age 17) to 2008 (age 41)
  • Brenda Villa, water polo: Gold medalist in 2012, other medals in 2000, 2004 and 2008

Paralympic:

  • Cheri Blauwet, track and field: Seven medals in three Paralympics, several major marathon wins
  • Candace Cable, track and field, Nordic skiing, alpine skiing: First American woman to win medals in summer and winter
  • Muffy Davis, cycling, alpine skiing: Four medals in skiing before switching to cycling and winning three golds
  • Bart Dodson, track and field: Eight gold medals in 1992 alone, 20 medals total over five Paralympics
  • Greg Mannino, alpine skiing: Six gold medals and 12 total over five Paralympics
  • Erin Popovich, swimming: 14 gold medals and 19 total over three Paralympics
  • Marla Runyan, Para track and field, Para-cycling, Olympic track and field: Six Paralympic medals, first legally blind American to compete in Olympics
  • Chris Waddell, alpine skiing, track and field: 12 Paralympic medals in skiing, one in track and field
  • Trischa Zorn, swimming: 52 medals, including 38 gold, over seven Paralympics

Team:

  • 1996 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball: Led by Leslie (19.5 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game), Katrina McClain (8.2 rebounds per game) and Teresa Edwards (7.3 assists per game)
  • 1998 U.S. Olympic women’s ice hockey: Upset Canada 3-1 in final, team included Ruggiero, Cammi Granato and Tricia Dunn
  • 2010 U.S. Olympic four-man bobsled: Won gold medal with driver Steven Holcomb and push athletes Steve Mesler, Curtis Tomasevicz and Justin Olsen

Fan voting continues at TeamUSA.org until Sept. 3.

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Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson on why they didn’t talk for 8 years

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Shawn Johnson East titled it “Eight years of drama.”

East and Nastia Liukin, the two U.S. gymnastics stars of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said they went nearly eight years without talking after the Games but have rekindled their best friendship in the last two years.

“Right after the Olympics, we kind of had like a falling out, but it wasn’t like anything between us,” East said in a YouTube sitdown from Liukin’s Grander Summit in Boston last week.

“There wasn’t, like, an incident. Like, ever,” Liukin said.

Liukin and East, who went one-two in the 2008 Olympic all-around, were roommates in Beijing. Though they were the two women vying for the sport’s biggest prize, they called each other best friends.

What drove them apart after the Olympics was the narrative that they were supposed to be rivals.

“You couldn’t like both. It was like ‘Twilight,'” Liukin said of the popular late 2000s novel series that she read while in China. “As a 16- and 18-year-old girl … we were so used to any time somebody told us something, we believed it. We thought like that was right. Or that’s what was supposed to happen. Or that’s how we were supposed to act.

“Right after the Olympics, the entire world like plotted us against one another,” East said. “As soon as all-around hit, it was like Nastia or Shawn. … We kind of felt like, well, they don’t want us to be friends. They won’t allow us to be friends.”

Liukin said they didn’t follow each other on social media — yet stalked each other from that distance. Neither had each other’s up-to-date phone number.

“The more and more time that went on, I think we realized we wanted to fix it, but we almost like didn’t know how because it just had been so long,” Liukin said. “Shawn was the bigger person.”

East’s epiphany came while sitting in an airport in Dallas, near Liukin’s hometown. She typed a long email, as reported by OlympicChannel.com, she later described as “a love letter.”

“If you don’t respond, I totally get it,” East said. “Just know that I love you. I miss my best friend. I support you in everything you do.”

Liukin saw it at Gemma, a Bowery Hotel restaurant on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, while on a bathroom break from a New York Times interview. East said she received a response from Liukin 30 seconds after sending.

Liukin recalls it well. That’s partly because it came right after The New York Times reporter asked whether Liukin would be attending her Olympic teammate’s April 2016 wedding to NFL long snapper Andrew East. Liukin had not received an invitation.

“That’s when it really hit me because I was like, oh my gosh, this girl that I had been best friends with for so many years and this moment that’s about to happen in her life that is the biggest moment of her life, and I’m not going to be there,” Liukin said. “When [the reporter] said that, I was like, I have to fix this.”

Liukin took the bathroom break, received the email and cried. They met in New York a few weeks later. Liukin did attend the Nashville wedding.

“Sports is just such a small part of your life, yet a big part of your life,” Liukin said. “It brought us together. It drove us apart. It brought us back together.”

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Watch Nastia Liukin tackle American Ninja Warrior course

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Nastia Liukin, the 2008 Olympic all-around gymnastics champion, became the latest Olympian to complete an “American Ninja Warrior” course, doing so with the help of a Ninja Warrior veteran.

Liukin, competing on the show’s “Red Nose Day” charity episode, joined the likes of two-time Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton and fellow Olympic gymnast Jonathan Horton in successfully navigating all of the physically challenging obstacles.

Liukin’s trainer and ANW veteran Barclay Stockett gave her a hand on the final element — the warped wall — to raise $30,000 for charity.

Olympic gymnasts Paul and Morgan Hamm have also competed on Ninja Warrior.

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MORE: Liukin among gymnastics Hall of Fame inductees