Nastia Liukin's bid to become the first defending Olympic women's gymnastics champion to return to the ensuing games since 1980 ended Sunday night after she struggled to get through her bars routine during the final night of the U.S. trials.
The five-time Olympic medalist, hindered by shoulder injuries during her year-long comeback, slammed into the mat midway through her set after failing to grab the high bar following a release. She calmly picked herself up, walked over and caked her hands in chalk before finishing. She earned a 13.950, far below the standard she set while winning silver in the event in Beijing four years ago.
The 22-year-old Liukin received a hug from her father and coach, Valeri, and a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at H.P. Pavilion. Liukin later posted a 14.950 on beam before saluting the crowd again.