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US Wins Gold in Olympic Women's All-Around Gymnastics Event


U.S. women won the Olympic gold and silver medals Friday in the All-Around Gymnastics competition. VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer was at the event in Beijing and has details.

On the strength of her performance on the uneven bars, Nastia Liukin won the women's Olympic all-around gymnastics title, beating teammate and reigning world champion Shawn Johnson by six-tenths of a point (63.325 to 62.725). China's Yang Yilin took the bronze medal (62.650).

It is only the third time a nation has had a one-two finish in this event at the Olympics. The others were by the former Soviet Union in 1960 (Larissa Latynina gold, Sofia Muratova silver for the Soviet Union) and Romania in 2000 (Simona Amanar gold, Maria Olaru silver for Romania).

Liukin and Johnson are clearly the best of the American female gymnasts competing in Beijing and knew they would be battling head-to-head for the all-around title. But they are good friends and - as unusual as it may seem - they are even rooming together at the Olympic Village.

Johnson had nothing but kind words for her winning teammate.

"We both were wearing USA and we wanted the best for each other," she said. "And I couldn't be any more proud of Nastia. She deserved that gold today."

Liukin says she and Johnson find nothing wrong with being good friends and competitors.

"You know, it's never been awkward for us," she said. "I think that we've pushed each other both to the limit from the few years that we've competed with each other. We've both wanted it so bad that we've pushed each other so much, and I think that we've become better and stronger gymnasts because of each other."

Liukin also has great support from her father and coach, Valery, who was a four-time Olympic medalist for the former Soviet Union at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. And her mother hung one of his gold medals in Nastia's room to give her inspiration.

"I saw it every single day when I woke up, and it just gave me that extra motivation," she said. "And I think that made a little bit of a difference, just being able to see it and just having it there in my room knowing that, you know in a few months, hopefully, I can have one these of my own."

And after winning silver for the United States in the team event Wednesday, Nastia Liukin now has her gold, from the individual all-around event.

On Sunday, she and Shawn Johnson can add to their medal count when the women begin competition on the individual apparatuses.

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