Anna Kotchneva, Champion Mom

Many of you probably know that the mother of the Olympic champion in artistic gymnastics Nastia Liukin is a former rhythmic gymnast,and none other than Anna Kotchneva, who, in 1987, won the world gold medal with clubs for this routine:

Her clubs gold medal was shared with the celebrated Bulgarian Bianka Panova who is the only rhythmic gymnast to have received 8 perfect 10's in one competition. Born in 1970 in Moscow, Anna Kotchneva is also the 1987 World bronze medalist in the hoop, and the 1987 World co-bronze medalist in the rope with the Olympic champion Marina Lobatch. Anna started training rhythmic gymnastics at age 9 and her first coach was Natalya Semenovna Karpushenko. She also won the prestigeous "Olympic Hopes" tournament in 1988 as well as three bronze medals, in hoop, rope and clubs, from the Soviet Nationals the same year.

Here are a couple of curious things I read about the Liukin family:

- When she married Nastia's dad Valeri, he was wearing a cast on his arm due to another sports injury.
- They moved to the United States in 1991, when Nastia was 2, but she visits her grandparents in Russia. This means Anna was 19 when she had her daughter and 21 when she left her native land to start a new life in the United States! How brave!!!
- Initially, Valeri and Anna did not encourage Nastia to practice gymnastics but she was drawn to the gym since a very early age.
- Anna is afraid to watch Nastia in competition so she often stays outside the hall during her medal-winning performances.
- In an interview with a Moscow radio station, Anna shared that she only coached her daughter at a very early age. Now, Valeri is the main coach and she is part of the "support." ("Ой, ну, я Настю тренировала только на самом раннем этапе. Сейчас основным тренером является Валера. Я так в группе поддержки").

As I follow Nastia Liukin's tweets and her general media presence her in the United States, I am constantly and greatly impressed by how optimistic,devoted, humble, respectful and friendly she is. She really demonstrates a lot of enthusiasm about the sport and about inspiring young girls to follow in her champion path. On a daily basis, Nastia tweets about her passion for everything she does,from gymnastics events and trips around the globe to every day jogging and work at the gym, and she also writes about her powerful and rewarding relationships with her peers. Nastia shows her gratitude to coaches, other gymnasts and friends all the time and she moves on to each of her new ventures with a lot of momentum and joy.  Good job, mom Anna, you raised an energetic and soulful human being!

As you know, Nastia Liukin won the all around title in Beijing Olympics in artistic gymnastics and also won medals in balance beam, uneven bars and floor, despite some controversial judging in China. She really should have won the gold in uneven bars but the Chinese girl was pushed to a less than deserved gold medal in Nastia's crown discipline.  I love this picture of Nastia from an add campaign she did.