Nastia Liukin talks values and hard work on SMU campus

The Daily Campus

Nastia Liukin spoke to a full auditorium about her experience as an Olympic gymnast and how she discovered who she is outside of the gym. A crowd of roughly 150 college students and community members gathered at the Hughes-Trigg Theatre to hear the athlete and SMU alum speak Tuesday night.

The lecture was hosted by the Delta Gamma Fraternity in conjunction with the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility. Liukin’s relevancy and local residency played a strong role in selecting her as the speaker for this year’s event.

“Knowing that we usually have an audience of young girls played a big part in deciding on Nastia Liukin,” Katelynn Moriarty, Delta Gamma Director of Foundation Events said. “We wanted someone people would be interested in coming to, and her SMU connection and Dallas ties were a big draw.”

Liukin attended SMU during the spring semester after her victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where she became a five-time Olympic medalist. She even told the crowd that she still has her SMU ID from her time on campus.

In her time trying out for the 2012 Olympic team, Liukin faced criticism. She learned how to use this as a means of motivation before moving on to other aspects of her career.

“It’s really easy when people are supporting you and telling you that you’re awesome,” Liukin said. “But when everyone turns their back on you, it’s hard. I used that to motivate me, and it taught me to surround myself with the right people.”

Liukin’s experience with criticism and hardship had a large impact on one audience member in particular.

“Her message about not letting other people’s negativity toward you affect you was refreshing coming from her,” SMU student Jennifer Bojues said. “In the media she is always portrayed in such a positive light and you don’t know the struggles she goes through behind closed doors.”
Liukin discussed the hard work and long hours she had to put in in order to achieve her goals.

“It was really inspiring for me and I admire the work that Nastia put into her achievements and hope to achieve that same level of satisfaction in my life,” SMU student Brittney Effner said.

A group of young local gymnasts sat in the audience listening to Liukin talk about her time in the Olympics, hoping maybe someday they will get there too. The girls were around 10-years-old, and Liukin took a moment to speak to them directly about pursuing their dreams.

“Find that passion for yourself,” she said. “Whatever it is you choose to do, do it for yourself.”

4-Time Olympic Medalist David Boudia Announces Return To Diving, Eye On 2020 Olympics


Seven-time USA Diving athlete of the year and three-time Olympian David Boudia announced on Tuesday that he will return to competitive diving, ending his one-year break from the sport following the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

Boudia said he decided in January that he would return to the sport and in June decided to “pull the trigger.”

“I’ve been training since June and hopefully I’m going to make a fourth run to the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” he said Tuesday afternoon in an announcement broadcast on USA Diving’s Facebook page.

Boudia, 28, said that he needed a mental break from the sport and also wanted to make sure that he would be able to remain competitive physically. Those weren’t the only reasons for deciding to return, however.

“More importantly I just saw the amount of opportunity I had to go on a stage to speak, whether to a secular audience or a faith-based audience,” he said. “I think it’s no secret my faith is my No. 1 driver, so being able to see how many people I could impact on this big stage, it’s a huge responsibility. There’s lot of weight to it, and I just want to try to be as faithful as I can.

“I look back on the last four years leading up to Rio and I thought of missed opportunities where I could have been a better mentor to my teammates and more loving to the people coming up to me. I believe God gave me this platform to use it for him, and so that’s a big driver of why I want to continue.”

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Olympic champion Boudia to announce diving future next week


Olympic diving champion David Boudia will announce his future in the sport next week.

The 28-year-old Boudia took a break after winning two medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, skipping this year’s world championships in Budapest and waiting until after the birth of his second child to reveal whether he would return to the pool or retire.

His daughter, Mila Primm Boudia, was born on Aug. 24.

Boudia is planning a news conference Tuesday at Mackey Arena on the campus of Purdue University, his alma mater. A statement from USA Diving says he will be accompanied by coach Adam Soldati and the governing body’s CEO, Lee Johnson, as well as family and friends.

Those arrangements would seem to be a strong indication that Boudia is retiring, leaving a huge hole to fill in the American program .

Boudia is already one of the greatest divers in U.S. history, a three-time Olympian who won a stunning gold medal on the platform at the 2012 London Games with an upset of the favored Chinese . That victory broke a 12-year gold medal drought for the Americans and was the first Olympic title for a U.S. male since the late Mark Lenzi in 1992.

Boudia has four Olympic medals overall, including a 10-meter bronze in Rio. He also earned synchronized medals on the big tower — a bronze with Nick McCrory at London and a silver with Steele Johnson last summer.

In addition, Boudia earned five medals over five world championships: four silvers and a bronze.