2008 golden girl Nastia Liukin ends career with fall, then perfect performance at Olympic Trials

2008 Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin ended her competitive gymnastics career on Sunday. After returning to the sport competitively early this year, Liukin was not able to consistently give the performances that helped her win five Olympic medals in Beijing.

On the uneven parallel bars, the event that earned her a silver in 2008, she had a shocking fall during a release move. Her hands couldn't get get a hold of the bar in time, and she fell flat on the mat below.

It was jarring to her body, but also jarring for her fans to see the previously unflappable Liukin fall so painfully. She got up and finished the bars routine with a stuck landing.

Luckily, it was not her last performance. Liukin did what so many athletes want to do -- she went out on a great performance. She finished her career by nailing a balance beam performance.

As hard as it was to see Liukin fall, it was even better to see her stand up, collect herself and go out with a strong routine while the crowd in San Jose cheered.

Later, she was seen hugging and sharing words of inspiration to the next crop of Olympians who will represent the United States in London. Aly Raisman teared up as Liukin whispered in her ear.

Liukin was not named to the U.S. team, and is done competing. She plans to head to New York University in January to begin her life after gymnastics. Before that she'll cheer on the U.S. Olympic team in London. It's the perfect way for an Olympian to end her career.

More Olympics coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
Five chosen for U.S. women's gymnastics to compete in London Games
Yohan Blake gets the best of Usain Bolt again
Three more added to round out men's gymnastics team