Nastia Liukin, the individual all-around gold medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and one of the most successful gymnasts in U.S. history, will serve as Grand Marshal of the 99th Indianapolis 500 on May 24.
As part of her duties as Grand Marshal, Liukin will appear on the red carpet, take a parade lap around the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval and be announced to the crowd prior to the start of the race. She will also serve as an Honored Guest at the 500 Festival Parade and the Snake Pit Ball.
“We’re excited to have Nastia Liukin as part of the rich pre-race pageantry of the Indianapolis 500,” said J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president. “Over the years we have welcomed many famous athletes from outside the motorsports world on Race Day and to have such a decorated Olympian visit is an honor.”
“I have very fond memories of competing and performing in Indianapolis, and I will actually be back again in August for the P&G Gymnastics Championships,” Liukin said. “I’m really honored to be the Grand Marshal for this year’s Indianapolis 500. It will be so exciting to witness ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ – I can’t wait!”
Liukin is currently competing on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” the celebrity event won in the fall of 2007 by current Verizon IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves. The competition airs on Monday nights on ABC; the network will also air the Indianapolis 500.
Liukin, who currently resides in New York City after growing up in Texas, retired from competitive gymnastics in 2012 after a career in which she was a key member of the U.S. team. She won nine world championship medals (four gold, five silver), tied with Shannon Miller and Simone Biles, and five Olympic medals.
In 2008, Liukin was instrumental to the U.S. women’s team’s success at the Olympic Games, leading the team to the silver medal in team competition. Individually, she won the coveted Olympic all-around gold medal with the performance of a lifetime, silver medals on both balance beam and uneven bars, and the bronze medal on the floor exercise. At the time, she was just the third American woman to win the Olympic all-around title.
Indianapolis holds a significant place in Liukin’s career, as she won her first senior U.S. all-around title at the U.S. Championships in Indy in 2005. She will be returning to town in August as a television commentator for the P&G Gymnastics Championships, the sport’s national championships.
Beyond gymnastics, Liukin has embarked on several successful business ventures, including modeling for BCBG/Max Azria; teaming up with Fisher-Price to introduce a new interactive Dora the Explorer doll, “Fantastic Gymnastics Dora”; launched Supergirl by Nastia, a line of signature clothing at JC Penney; designed her own leotard line with GK/Elite Sportswear and a signature line of training gymnastics equipment with AAI; served on the creative team and performed in the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions; and was a reporter for the television coverage of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Liukin is fluent in both English and Russian and began attending NYU in 2013, where she is a junior studying international sports management.