Gymnast vaults into fashion

CENTRAL GLENDALE — Hundreds of young fans gathered Saturday at the Glendale Galleria for a chance to meet Olympic gold-medal-winning gymnast Nastia Liukin.

"We thought it would be really cool to get her autograph and see her," said 14-year-old Glendale resident Anna Hall, who came with her mom and 9-year-old sister Adella. "We really admire her passion."

At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Liukin tied the U.S. gymnastics record for most medals in one Olympic Games by medaling in five events, including the gold medal in the all-around competition.

Since then, the 20-year-old gymnast has secured a variety of endorsement deals, including her new clothing line, "Supergirl by Nastia," a joint venture with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and JCPenney Co, which is based in Liukin's hometown of Plano, Texas.

Saturday's event was part of Liukin's multi-city tour to promote the clothes, which are designed for 8- to 12-year-old girls.

On sale now at JC Penney stores nationwide, the clothing line puts a new spin on the iconic "S" shield with a variety of colors and designs, of which Liukin helped pick out.

Liukin said she became interested in fashion at a young age, and started designing her own gymnastics leotards when she was 12.

"I liked to be different and stand out," she said. "I never thought I'd have an opportunity to have my own clothing line.

Liukin said she was excited to be a part of a product that encourages female empowerment.

"I hope to be able to inspire you girls to go after your dreams," she said to the crowd Saturday.

For the past four years, Warner Bros. has sponsored the "Supergirl Jam," an all-female action sports competition and music festival. This year, the company also sponsored the inaugural "Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup" for rising gymnasts.

On Saturday, hundreds of children and their parents waited for a chance to meet Liukin, snap photos and get her autograph.

Many girls in attendance donned gymnastics leotards or brought them for Liukin to sign.

"Gymnastics is my life," Liukin said. "So even to be outside of gymnastics and see so many young gymnasts is really special."

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