Inside Gymnast Nastia Liukin & Matt Lombardi's 'Tough' Breakup: 'I Felt Like a Failure,' She Says
Nowadays, Liukin is enjoying time with her friends and family both in Dallas and Russia, and she says it was her close loved ones who helped her through the “extremely tough” breakup.
“When it all first happened it was scary because when I met Matt, I thought that he was gonna be the person I was gonna spend the rest of my life with,” Liukin, 29, tells PEOPLE. “But I’ve been so lucky to have some amazing people in my life that I can lean on for support and love.”
Last month, a rep for Liukin confirmed to PEOPLE that she and Lombardi, 36, “amicably ended their relationship.” The rep noted that the pair split over the summer. Liukin says it has been about six months since they called it quits, and she revealed that her athlete mentality impacted her emotions after the breakup.
“I felt like a failure not having this relationship work,” Liukin — who recently posed for the stunning new photos by photographer Tyler Shields — explains. “That’s because as an athlete if things don’t go your way, if you don’t come out on top, you feel like you’ve somewhat failed. This has always been a big learning lesson for me.”
Liukin and Lombardi were set to wed in Newport, Rhode Island, on June 24, 2017. But just one month ahead of their celebratory day, Liukin announced that they had decided to postpone their wedding. She tells PEOPLE that the decision wasn’t the result of a troubled relationship, and had nothing to do with the breakup.
“We just weren’t quite ready,” she says. “We had a lot of things going on. We had just bought a house, started a business and were super busy, we just didn’t want to rush into things. We obviously stayed in a very committed relationship throughout that time and were very supportive of each other. Then it just of came to that point where we both realized, and it was a very mutual decision.”
Now, Liukin says she is not dating and is instead focusing on herself. But she and the former professional ice hockey player have remained friends, she says, adding that they work well together on their business Grander Sports.
“We’re definitely still friends. I think that it’s important to separate business and relationships, and I definitely feel like we’ve both done a great job at being able to do that,” she tells PEOPLE. “At the end of the day this business is something that we’re so passionate about.”
These days, Liukin has been working, and even getting back to her first love: gymnastics. And as she gears up for a new year — and a new chapter — Liukin says she has no ill feelings about the past.
“We had an amazing relationship and I regret absolutely nothing. He’s such an amazing guy,” she says of Lombardi.
“The memories that we shared together and the things we got to do together I’ll forever cherish. I also have realized that sometimes things just aren’t meant to be and that’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay, but just know that you will be okay in the end.”