For former gymnast Nastia Liukin, she remembers her experience at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as if it were yesterday, but at the same time, she told FN, it feels like a different person, another lifetime ago. Now, Liukin has the chance to reminisce on that major moment, thanks to her new sneaker collaboration with APL.
Last month, the Olympic gold medalist launched a limited-edition collection inspired by her own career in honor of International Olympic Day and in advance of the Summer 2021 Games in Tokyo, where Liukin will be a commentator for NBC Sports.
For the first drop in the collab, two versions of the TechLoom Bliss ($200) and the TechLoom Breeze ($245) are available for purchase, with one of the styles featuring gold stars, while the other style is adorned in red, white and blue.
“The stars represent a commitment to yourself, to your goals and your passions. And even though you don’t really necessarily know or can see the outcome, stars in the sky can be a symbol as your path to your final destination,” Liukin told FN, adding that the current members of Team USA, including Simone Biles, have already sported her shoes.
While Liukin said she doesn’t miss her seven-hour daily training sessions, she knows firsthand what the U.S. Olympic hopefuls are going through.
“Being part of something so much greater than just myself as an individual and being able to come together with my teammates and our entire country, essentially, with that pressure we felt, to carry the weight of the entire nation on our shoulders with so much pride, I can never express that feeling,” Liukin told FN.
And with a controversial Olympics set to happen with the COVID-19 pandemic as a backdrop in just three weeks, Liukin said this event will be like no other. Indeed, Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the Tokyo organizing committee has said that banning all fans from the Olympics is still an option.
Liukin said of the year-long delay for the Games, “As an athlete, you never take more than two days off. And for them to have taken time off training and face that uncertainty and add on another year … what they’ve had to go through, it’s really unthinkable. The fact that they were able to persevere and continue to achieve their dream, I have so much admiration and respect for them.”
What is more important now than ever is for the nation to come together and support Team USA, Liukin added.
“Politics, religion — you put all of that aside because they’re all here for that one dream and that one goal. I think that is so special. There really is nothing else, in my opinion, that can truly unite the world the way that the Olympics do,” she said. “My hope is that everybody can just remember that and try to be supportive and cheer them on as much as possible.”
As for her own aspirations, Liukin said that creating her own collection with APL has been another dream come true. Next up for the collab is a second drop, featuring two more iterations of the TechLoom Bliss, launching on Aug. 3, and the third and final installation will debut Aug. 10 with the Techloom Wave.