Nastia Liukin didn’t really understand what she’d done until she stepped off a plane in her home state of Texas. It was 2008, and she had just become a household name after winning an Olympic gold medal in the gymnastics all-around competition in Beijing.
At the airport, a crowd greeted her with cheers. Later, her hometown honored her with a parade. For the next several months, she flew around the country for talk shows, commercial shoots and gymnastics exhibitions. But then, suddenly, it was all over. The attention and opportunities faded. A few years later, Liukin retired from gymnastics for good, and that was that.