Former champion Liukin calls Biles 'the best'

Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:49pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former Olympic gymnastics all-around champion Nastia Liukin said on Wednesday that fellow American Simone Biles is the best gymnast she has seen and predicts the petite dynamo will be the darling of the Rio Games.

Liukin, who claimed gold with elegant aplomb at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said she can hardly wait for the Aug. 5-21 Rio Games and was hard-pressed to name Biles' main competition.

"To be honest, she's her own competition," Liukin told Reuters on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, where she helped throw the switch to light the skyscraper in Team USA red, white and blue to mark 100 days out from the Rio Games.

"She's just competing against herself. She's the best gymnast I've ever seen.

"And obviously the most dominant so far, even without any Olympic medal, just looking at her world championships medal count. The gymnastics that she does is just absolutely incredible. She brings it to a different level."

Liukin will be in Rio as a TV commentator for NBC and is tingling with excitement over what she expects to witness.

"It's been fun for me just to commentate. You're sitting on the edge of your seat. In your mind you're thinking how is that even possible," she said about the tumbling passes Biles is able to produce at the end of her routines.

"America is going to fall in love with her. She's just bubbly and giggly and enjoys life and loves gymnastics."   Continued...

Gymnast Simone Biles poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California March 7, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson