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Liukin limited by ankle injury

Local gymnast will only compete in two events at Pan American Games

08:03 PM CDT on Wednesday, May 30, 2007

By KATE HAIROPOULOS / The Dallas Morning News

NEW WAVERLY, Texas – Nastia Liukin's right ankle injury is flaring up again and will probably limit her participation in July's Pan American Games in Rio, Brazil.

It's a frustrating development for the gymnast, who originally injured the ankle in October just before the World Championships. After undergoing surgery to repair bone chips in November, Liukin said she had finally regained full training ability before her ankle became inflamed two weeks ago.

"I'm taking a few weeks just to see if it will heal down," said Liukin, who trains at World Olympic Gymnastics Academy in Plano. "I haven't competed fully since the last [U.S.] Championships. I'm really hoping to compete in the all-around soon."

Martha Karolyi, USA Gymnastics' women's team coordinator, said Wednesday that she plans on using Liukin on the bars, her signature event, and on the beam at the Pan Am Games.

Karolyi and Valeri Liukin, Nastia's coach and father, don't want to risk Liukin's ankle worsening before the World Championships in Germany in September. Liukin hopes to defend her two-time, all-around U.S. title at the Visa Championships in August in San Jose, Calif.

Nastia Liukin has won the last two all-around U.S. titles.
Nastia Liukin has won the last two all-around U.S. titles.

"It's a pretty sensitive issue," Karolyi said. "Usually her body type – beautiful, long, tall, lean – her body is not as sturdy as a stockier gymnast. ... She's a little bit on the fragile side. ... She will come back and she will be excellent. Right now, don't over push her."

Along with key competitions leading into the 2008 Olympic year, Liukin is already in the midst of a busy summer.

She'll appear this morning on the Today show in New York. Last week, the 17-year-old graduated from Spring Creek Academy.

Liukin has been accepted into SMU and plans to enroll as a part-time student in January. She said she'd like to study international business.

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