"After thinking about this for quite awhile now I sat down with my parents and decided...that time was running out. I knew that I didn't want to go out there and compete and represent team USA...if I wasn't at my best. And my best is to be able to go out there and compete for gold medals. I knew that at this point in my career I was not capable of doing that."
Liukin also mentioned that she will be taking a break from gymnastics. "This is by no means a retirement or the end of my career," she said, "It just means that I am taking some time off to rest my mind -- taking a break that I haven't really had since the Olympics."
She didn't specify when she'd like to resume training, stating, "When I feel ready to come back Iíll be back in the gym." Later, she added, "This decision has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of my career. Itís based on just this year."
It seems to me that a complete retirement isn't out of the realm of possibility, though. At one point she said, "No matter what I decide, my heart is going to be in gymnastics for the rest of my life no matter how many more years I compete for."
And her agent, Evan Morgenstein, talked about how this break will give Liukin more time to pursue new opportunities, including the Nastia Liukin Cup and Nastia Liukin Foundation. He also said, "The one thing [Nastia] and her family didn't want anyone to think was that they were just leaving the sport, and that's just so untrue when it's in your blood like it's in their blood. It's part of who you are."
My fingers are crossed that it will just be a short break, and that Liukin will come back stronger than ever in 2010. I think her presence is great for the sport.
(Pictured above: Nastia Liukin; © Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images)