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U.S. Gymnastics Starts First Camp without Karolyi

For the first time since 2001, the United States Women’s Gymnastics team opened a training camp, without Martha Karolyi at the helm, as Valeri Liukin takes over the program.

Liukin, the father of former Olympic champion Nastia Liukin, was named national team coordinator early in September, and is beginning his new duties of opening up the national team’s monthly camp at the Karolyi ranch in Texas. The ranch was built and developed by the Karolyis, but was bought by United States gymnastics before the Rio Olympics.

Before becoming a coach, Liukin was a two-time Olympic gold medalist, as well as earning two silvers, all in the 1988 Seoul Olympics while competing for the Soviet Union. He move to the United States and became a citizen in 2000, and began coaching, with his best results being in all-around champion Carly Patterson and his daughter, Nastia.

In 2013, he was named the national team’s elite athletic development coordinator, which had him oversee the talent pipeline and younger members of the national program. That experience will give him a lot of knowledge in the girls coming onto the elite levels now, which will help them develop into the next generation of American stars.

The camp, the first since the Olympics, will be the first one without Martha Karolyi directly involved, after she announced her retirement before Rio, stating that 2016 would be her final run.

Karolyi oversaw unprecedented dominance in the program, leading the United States women to win 96 Olympic and world medals since she took over, including a national record nine in Rio. However, Karolyi isn’t worried about the program suffering in her absence. During her time as coordinator, the U.S. system was overhauled, adopting a semi-centralized system, that has national team members meet at the ranch once every month, while the rest of the time they train with their own coaches.

“When I finish my job, United States Gymnastics will continue,” Karolyi said in an interview before the Games.

The camp will be without any of the “Final Five” members from the Rio Olympics, as well as several other top senior elite gymnasts, as they take part in the Kellogg’s Tour of Champions, which includes Old Bridge native, Laurie Hernandez. However, the camp of 24 girls, will feature Trinity Thomas (York, PA), Margzetta Frazier (Erial, NJ), Olivia Dunne (Hillsdale, NJ), and Christina Desiderio (Hackettstown, NJ).

According to U.S. Gymnastics, the camp will primarily focus on skill selection and routine construction feedback as the athletes prepare to set their routines for the upcoming 2017 season under a new Code of Points. The Liukin era of U.S. Gymnastics has officially begun.



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Dan is a Staff Writer here at with a focus on Team USA and the Rio Olympics
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