Nastia Liukin's gold medal win in the women's gymnastics individual competition over teammate and best buddy Shawn Johnson is part of a family history so Olympically perfect, you'd think a sports writer had invented it: 20 years ago, Nastia's dad, Valeri lost the gold medal by one-tenth of a point to his Russian countryman, Vladimir Artemev. And last night, Nastia, 18, beat 16-year-old Johnson by a mere 0.6 to win, edging her out by performing routines that had a high degree of technical difficulty with a great deal of artistry. Many commentators remarked remarked on Liukin's grace, and watching her long body float across the bar last night, you realize that even the most florid sportswriter was not exaggerating. But don't take my word for it. You can watch a video of Liukin's floor routine and check out a photo of her mid-twirl, after the jump.Which is not to say that Shawn's performance wasn't also nearly impeccable. The two girls were genuinely pleased for the other's success, and watching them embrace at the end of Johnson's floor routine (she was the last competitor) could make even the most staunch Olympic cynic tear up a little bit. "I gave my heart and soul to the competition today, but Nastia, she deserves that gold today," Johnson said. Aw. It's a particularly satisfying win for Liukin, who broke her foot 2 years ago and battled back long and hard from the injury, ultimately silencing critics who called the teenager washed up. "I just went out there and gave it all I had," Liukin told the New York Times. That is far more gracious than what I would have said to my detractors, which is, "Suck it hater monkeys! I won gold!"
For Liukin and Johnson, 1-2 Finish Helps Americans Reclaim the Spotlight [NYT] Liukin Brings Home The Gold Her Father Nearly Had [SI] US Gymnasts Land A 1-2 Punch [Time] Gold In All-Around Adds Luster To Liukin Family Legacy [NYT] Gymnastics: Nastia Liukin, Women's AA Final [NBC Olympics]