Nastia Liukin: Disappointing Daddy

…One Non-Gold Medal At A Time

I’ve never claimed to be the best father in the world, but when I heard the announcers repeating the phrases that Valeri Liukin, father and coach of Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin, was spewing the night of the women’s all around competition, my heart broke for her. Words like, “There is only one color good enough for this family and that’s GOLD” and “Second place is the worst possible place” just seemed terribly wrong to me. I understand pushing your child to aspire to do their best. But to imply that you wouldn’t be happy for them at all, even upset with them if they won a silver medal, is going too far.

She’s going home tomorrow with five medals; one gold, three silver, and one bronze. That’s a serious haul! Especially at the freakin’ Olympics! How could any father and/or coach not be overwhelmingly proud of that? The last sporting event I excelled at that wasn’t played on a Playstation 2 was a junior high Presidential Physical Fitness sit-up contest some 25 years ago. We’re talking about the Olympics here.

Maybe I’m the one misinterpreting the whole situation. But I just can’t get it out of my mind. It really stuck in my craw for some reason. It could be that I’ve seen too many of those crazy sports parents that yell at their kids for missing a free throw or dropping a pop-fly to sit well with me. It may be going too far to say so, but I see that as a form of abuse. Feel free to disagree or even contradict me – I totally understand. But it still upsets me.

I for one am proud of all of our athletes competing this summer whether they bring home any medals or not. Congratulations Nastia, Shawn, Michael, and everyone else. Well Done!

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3 thoughts on “Nastia Liukin: Disappointing Daddy

  1. I hadn’t heard those comments from “dad.” Too bad, she is a talented young lady and I am certainly impressed! Except for Bela Karoli (I love him, he gets so excited, lol), I don’t care for the announcers. I suppose they are getting paid to talk, but they are so critical and annoying. I just mute my tv and watch. (same goes for the espn monday night football crew…ugh!) Oops. am I ranting?? :lol”

  2. kinda reminds me of talledega nights, where the drunken and high father says to ricky bobby, “What kind of crap is that? I was probably high when I said that. There’s all kind of places besides first. There’s second; there’s third, for instance… Heck, even fifth place ain’t so bad.”

  3. The announcer said that, but it wasn’t a direct quote. What Valeri said was something along the lines of Nastia hating 2nd place, just like he did when he competed. The announcer was alluding to that when he made that comment. It’s not something Valeri drilled into her, just an attitude they happen to share.

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