In its latest issue, on newsstands now, Us Weekly
shares the inspirational stories of Olympic gymnasts Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Alicia Sacramone
and Chellsie Memmel
as well as Michael Phelps
' transformation from a bullied schoolkid to record-breaking swimmer.
Liukin, 18, has won four medals at the games - including the silver following a controversial tie-break - but she's had her moments of doubt.
Just a few months ago, Liukin considered quitting, her best friend and training partner Katie Matusik tells Us
'This sport is so hard,' Katie says. 'Some days, she'd want to give up. But then she'd snap out of it and be like, 'You know what, I can do this.' She got through it good.'
Katie's mom Mary adds: 'I remember Nastia at 5-years-old, and you just knew she had what it takes.
'There are a lot of days when she's in the gym crying,' Mary says of the Plano, Texas native. 'It's very difficult mentally and physically - She couldn't participate in normal teenage things like shopping, going to movies and sleepovers.'
And for Liukin, the competition is personal: her father (and coach) won four gymnastics medals at the 1988 Olympics while her mother was a 1987 rhythmic gymnastics world champion.
'It's extra hard when your dad coaches you,' Mary tells Us
.See photos of Olympic hunks
Also in the new issue of Us Weekly
, Debbie Phelps opens up
about how her son Michael became the greatest Olympian of all time after winning eight gold medals
and setting seven world records in Beijing.
'I saw a passion for swimming at such a young age,' she tells Us
. "He could be at a swim meet or practice for hours. It was a great outlet. The bullying and adversity made him be stronger and worker harder."See Michael Phelps' Greatest Olympic Moments
Check out the latest issue of Us Weekly
, on newsstands now, for the untold story of the top USA Women Gymnasts, including their pre-competition rituals and on-the-road essentials; the complete story of Phelps' road to gold including an exclusive interview with his mom; and more triumphant Olympic stories from memorable athletes like swimmer Dara Torres
and volleyball player Kerri Walsh