View Photo Gallery: Nastia Liukin didn’t wow the judges with her bars routine, but she remains one of the top American athletes to watch as the London 2012 Olympics approach.

Natsia Liukin’s bid to become the Olympic gymnastics all-around champion to return to the next games since 1980 is off to a rocky start. And she did little to convince coaches that she can replicate her sterling performance from Beijing with a disappointing showing at the U.S. gymnastics championships in St. Louis over the weekend.

Her score of 13.650 on the uneven bars in Sunday’s final round left much to be desired, but the 22-year-old still earned an invitation to the U.S. Olympic trials in three weeks.

“I think it was not as I was hoped, but I still think it was a pretty good performance for not competing in three years and not competing bars for four years,” Liukin said. “It’s definitely such a mental thing of getting back in that competitive mentality of not giving up or not relaxing until it’s completely done.”

Reigning world champion Jordyn Wieber narrowly edged Gabby Douglas to claim her second straight U.S. title.

As the Associated Press reported:

A right shoulder injury slowed Liukin’s training and she again opted to skip a big-time dismount for fear of aggravating it. There’s no cure for her slightly torn labrum and rotator cuff other than rest. That’s not much of an option with trials starting in 19 days.
Liukin insists she’ll be ready. She really doesn’t have a choice if she wants to be one of the five chosen to go to London. Looking back, Liukin allows maybe she shouldn’t have waited until last year’s world championships to announce her comeback.
“I think I didn’t realize how hard it would be to get back a beam routine,” Liukin said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I can totally do this. I can totally be ready in time.’ ... and bars has taken a lot longer.”

Read the full story here.

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