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Born in Russia to a gold-medal gymnast father and rhythmic gymnast mother, Liukin and her family moved to the U.S. with little money and the dream to open a gym. They went first to New Orleans, then to Dallas, where they opened a facility they named WOGA (World Olympics Gymnastics Academy). “We didn’t have money for a babysitter, so the gym was my second house,” says Liukin, who was four when it opened, six when she entered her first competition and 12 when she made the U.S. Junior National team. Today, there are three WOGA gyms in Texas.
Whether or not Liukin defends her Olympic title in 2012 is still up in the air. She maintains an unabiding passion for the sport—when asked if she ever gets sick of the gym, she laughs and answers, “Um, no, not really”—but is a realist, also. “I would love to train and compete as long as I can, but it’s so hard to predict what’s going to happen next year,” Liukin says. “The year 2008 isn’t over yet and I’m trying to enjoy the success.”
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