OnlyOnAOL: Gold medalist Nastia Liukin on Simone Biles: She's the best ever

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Nastia Liukin On Her "Olympic Career and Rio 2016"

Nastia Liukin won the coveted all-around gymnastics gold at the 2008 Olympics. And since taking home her medal, she's earned a professional studies degree from New York University and gotten engaged to businessman Matt Lombardi.

Life off the beam, says Liukin, "has been great. School has been a huge accomplishment, another milestone. I'm moving on with my life but am still so involved in gymnastics. It's my first love."

SEE MORE: Everything you need to know about the Summer Olympics

And it's why she, along with the rest of us, will be watching the women compete this week in Rio. Like Gabby Douglas, who made the 2016 team after winning gold in 2012, Liukin tried for a comeback.

"I went to Olympic trials in 2012. On my best event, the uneven bars, I fell flat on my face. That was a defining moment in my career. I knew I was not going to make a second Olympic team. And yet I got a standing ovation. It made me realize so much about myself. I thought people wouldn't love me unless I won a gold medal," she says.

Nastia Liukin visits AOL Hq for Build on April 13, 2016 in New York. Photos by Noam GalaiNastia Liukin visits AOL Hq for Build on April 13, 2016 in New York. Photos by Noam GalaiNastia Liukin visits AOL Hq for Build on April 13, 2016 in New York. Photos by Noam Galai

When one door slams shut, another opens. "Because I didn't make the team, I started working with NBC. Everything happens for a reason. I got to go to London and I'll be commentating in Rio," says Liukin.

Still, the landing has been rough at times. "The transition hasn't been smooth. Gymnastics defined who I was as a person for 22 years. Who am I? I've had so many transitions. One of those was after the Olympics when I won. What do I do now?"

Well, that involves analyzing the five-woman team competing in Rio: Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Madison Kocian, Laurie Hernandez and team captain Aly Raisman. It's anchored by powerhouse Biles, whose athleticism is jaw-dropping.

"They are probably the best group of women USA Gymnastics has ever produced. A lot of that has to do with Simone. She is, in my mind, the best gymnast that has ever lived. She's the most powerful. The skills that she does, with the ease she does them -- it's insane. There won't be anyone else like her. She's set the bar really high. And you have Gabby and Aly, who are two-time gold medalists," says Liukin.

Look for Biles to go home loaded with medals. "With Simone, there is no one better than her," says Liukin.

By: Donna Freydkin

17 PHOTOS
U.S. Women's Gymnastics 2016
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U.S. Women's Gymnastics 2016
SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 10: Simone Biles waits to warm up on the uneven bars during Day 2 of the 2016 U.S. Women's Gymnastics Olympic Trials at SAP Center on July 10, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 07: Gymnast Madison Kocian poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 7, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 11: Mykayla Skinner of United States competes on the Beam during practice prior to the 2016 FIG Artistic World Cup at The Emirates Arena on March 11, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 12: MyKayla Skinner of USA competes on the Floor on her way to winning gold during the Womens All-Around Artistic World Cup competition at the Emirates Arena on March 12, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 08: Ragan Smith competes on the uneven bars during day 1 of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women's Gymnastics Team Trials at SAP Center on July 8, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 10: Gabrielle Douglas warms up on the floor exercise during day 2 of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women's Gymnastics Team Trials at SAP Center on July 10, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 08: Simone Biles during day 1 of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women's Gymnastics Team Trials at SAP Center on July 8, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 08: Gabrielle Douglas during day 1 of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women's Gymnastics Team Trials at SAP Center on July 8, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 08: Alexandra Raisman with Mihai Brestyan after competing on the balance beam during day 1 of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women's Gymnastics Team Trials at SAP Center on July 8, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 08: Lauren Hernandez competes on the uneven bars during Day 1 of the 2016 U.S. Women's Gymnastics Olympic Trials at SAP Center on July 8, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 08: Lauren Hernandez competes on the floor exercise during Day 1 of the 2016 U.S. Women's Gymnastics Olympic Trials at SAP Center on July 8, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 10: Lauren Hernandez warms up on the uneven bars during Day 2 of the 2016 U.S. Women's Gymnastics Olympic Trials at SAP Center on July 10, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 08: Gabrielle Douglas competes on the floor exercise during day 1 of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women's Gymnastics Team Trials at SAP Center on July 8, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 24: MyKayla Skinner competes in the floor exercise during day one of the 2016 P&G Gymnastics Championships at Chafitz Arena on June 24, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 08: Ragan Smith before competing on the balance beam during day 1 of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women's Gymnastics Team Trials at SAP Center on July 8, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
EVERETT, WA - APRIL 10: Ragan Smith competes on the balance beam during Day 3 of the 2016 Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships at Xfinity Arena on April 10, 2016 in Everett, Washington. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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