Valeri Liukin New Head of U.S. Women’s Gymnastics

Valeri Liukin, owner of a North Texas gym that has trained several Olympic gold medalists, has been named the head of U.S. Women’s gymnastics program. The WOGA Gymnastics gym, owned by Liukin, is the same gym where his daughter Nastia Liukin, Olympic gold medalists Madison Kocian (2016) and Carly Patterson (2004) trained. According to USA Gymnastics, he will continue his role at the gym.

Martha Karolyi retiring this time

Liukin waited for a long time to become a coordinator of the United States Women’s National Team in gymnastics. Liukin is taking over for the departing Martha Karolyi who guided the gymnastics program to a total of 96 medals in Olympics and world competition over the last fifteen years.

When he was asked if Martha Karolyi was truly retiring this time, he said that it is too late now (as) he is not giving it back. Carly Patterson, former Olympic gold medalist, said Liukin does know that these are huge shoes to fill but it is what drives him. Patterson said she thinks Liukin is going to do a great job and she cannot wait to see what the future holds for him.

In the official release, Liukin said, “We are at the highest level there is.” He added that it is not going to be simple and it shouldn’t be, however, he has been a part of this team for several years in one way or another. He stated that since 1999, he has been at The Ranch and has coached many generations of national team members.

He further said he grew up in that system as a gymnast and has raised his athletes in that same system so he knows the drill. Patterson said he knows exactly what to do with young gymnasts to assist them in achieving their goals.

Why Valeri Liukin is best for this job?

During Nastia’s 2008 gold-medal run in Beijing, Valeri served as her coach. Nastia said she has never been more proud to be his daughter. Further, she added that Liukin has always been her father but he has also been a role model and an inspiration for her, so seeing him achieve what he wanted to do for so long – lead the U.S. team – makes her very proud of him.

While competing on the World stage for the Soviet Union from 1987-93, Valeri Liukin won eight gold medals, two Olympic gold medals included. In addition to this, from 1998-2011, Liukin served as U.S. National Team coach and he has been named the International Coach of the Year twice. Also, he is a member of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

At the end of this month, the first national team camp with Valeri as the program’s coordinator will take place at the Karolyi Ranch in southeast Texas. In a release, Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics, said Valeri has excelled as a personal coach and has demonstrated his ability to guide and lead other “coaches through his efforts as the elite developmental coordinator.”

John Sill