Strength Training with Nastia Liukin

Winning Olympic gold in women's gymnastics proved Nastia Liukin's athletic mettle. Now she's out to affirm her might on the marketing front as well.

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Beauty Inc issue 12/12/2008
To be sure, it’s possible: Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Mary Lou Retton all have widespread appeal beyond athletics. P&G’s Dial thinks Liukin has crossover potential, too, particularly because, like Barack Obama, her story epitomizes the American Dream. “At the end of the day, the appeal has to go beyond the sport,” says Dial, “and for Nastia, there’s a wonderful story of how she’s Russian born and has a long lineage in gymnastics. She has the potential to broaden her appeal and connect with consumers and fans in a way that goes beyond gymnastics.”

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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