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Olympic gymnastics champion won't be at worlds

Olympic champion Nastia Liukin ran out of time.

Liukin withdrew her name from consideration for the world gymnastics championships Monday, saying she hasn't had enough time to train. Liukin, only the third U.S. woman to win the Olympic title, has been in high demand for appearances, photo shoots and commercial opportunities since she left Beijing, but the schedule wreaked havoc on her training.

The first of two training camps that will be used to choose the U.S. women's team begins next week. The women's competition at the world championships in London begins Oct. 14. There is no team competition at this year's worlds, only the all-around and individual events.

"Getting back into the gym and competition has been a major goal for me this summer, and I have worked hard to balance my training and obligations," Liukin said in a statement. "With the selection process for worlds beginning next week, I realized I need to take some time to get myself where I need and want to be competitively."

Her decision does not mean the end to her competitive career, however. Liukin has said repeatedly that she would like to compete at the London Olympics, and that remains her goal.

"I have more to accomplish in this sport," said Liukin, whose nine medals at worlds tie her with Shannon Miller for most by an American gymnast.

Liukin's announcement is not a complete surprise.

She has crisscrossed the country since winning gold in Beijing, doing everything from appearing at Fashion Week to picking up the female athlete of the year award at the ESPYs. She's loved all the experiences, but gymnastics is not a sport that can be done on a part-time basis. It takes hundreds of repetitions to perfect a routine, even routines she was doing with ease just last summer.

Liukin's uneven bars routine is one of the most difficult in the world, and she is the reigning world champion on balance beam.

"I just wasn't able to get consistently in the gym," Liukin said earlier this summer. "I'd be at the gym a few days and then leave for a few days, and it was like starting over."

Liukin curtailed her schedule a few months ago so she could compete at the U.S. championships, which were in her hometown of Dallas. She did one event, finishing fourth on beam, but the solid but imperfect performance showed she wasn't back to top level yet.

Liukin would have been a favorite to make the U.S. world team, and she hoped the two months between nationals and worlds would give her the time she needed to get back in shape. But after talking with her father and coach, Valeri, she decided to withdraw.