Cliche Magazine June/July 2018 - Page 111

F or Nastia Liukin, gymnastics was in her blood. “Both my parents were actually gymnasts,” Liukin said. “My dad competed at the ’88 games, won two gold and two silver medals. My mom was a rhythmic gymnast and a world champion. So, gymnastics was, ever since the day I was born, truly just part of me and part of my life.” Though Liukin said that her parents were originally hesitant to let her get involved in gymnastics, they changed their minds once they realized how she took to it. “When they saw how much love and passion I had for the sport, they didn’t want to take that away from me,” Liukin said. “I truly fell in love with the sport since day one, and obviously still have that same love.” Liukin would go on to win one gold, three silvers, and one bronze at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. But more than that, gymnastics would become something that shaped who she is. “It’s shaped me in the sense of so many things I’ve learned about myself,” Liukin said. “The biggest thing was if you have a dream, if you have a goal, stick to it because anything is possible. I career that I had and the different mentors in my life that I had that truly helped me throughout my journey. Now my mission is to give back to the next generation.” One of the issues that she was having though, is that, as much as she wanted to go out and inspire as many young gymnasts as she could, she could only ever do so much. “I’ve been so fortunate enough to travel across the country and speak at clinics and coach camps and do all sorts of things,” Liukin said. “But, there’s only one of me, and there’s only so much time I have, and there’s only so many places I can be at once.” She also realized that most of the young people today spend a lot of their time on their phones. “I feel like in the world we live in today, especially with this next generation, they live on their phones,” Liukin said. “I’m a little older than them, but I’m definitely guilty of that.” Taking in both of these points, Liukin, along with her fiancé, former hockey player Matt Lombardi, created an app, called Grander, that would allow young athletes, who are on their phones anyway, to be able to reach knowledgeable and experienced people who, like Liukin, can’t physically go out and interact with each one of them. "The biggest thing was if you have a dream, if you have a goal, stick to it because anything is possible." think gymnastics truly taught me that through the ups and the downs and the obstacles and everything that I had to overcome, I was still able to achieve that life-long dream and goal of becoming an Olympic gold medalist.” Now, her main focus is passing on all she’s learned in her life-long experience to the gymnastics community and those younger gymnasts looking for a role model. “That’s just been a huge passion of mine for a very long time,” Liukin said. “I’ve just always felt that I was truly blessed to have the “It’s a global community to inspire the next generation of female athletes by connecting them to their mentors, such as myself, some of my other Olympic teammates, and then industry experts as well,” Liukin said, noting that some of those industry experts would include sports nutritionists, sports psychologists, collegiate recruiters, and other leaders. Grander launched in 2016 with a closed pilot, “to test, first of all, the model, and see what people wanted and if they wanted this and if they enjoyed that deeper connection and more content.” With www.clichemag.com 111