OKSANA CHUSOVITINA: SENIOR WOMEN'S GYMNASTIC AT 2020 TOKYO OLYMPICS
Competed at the age of 46, experienced the Olympics since 1992 and represented three countries.
The Olympics often present inspirational stories and teach about the highest human dreams that are ready to be achieved by working hard. This time the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is no exception.
For fans of gymnastics, especially artistic gymnastics, the name Oksana Chusovitina is a legend. Like Pele in football, Chusovitina wrote a long story competing in the Olympics. The Uzbekistan-born athlete has competed in the Olympics from Barcelona 1992 to Tokyo 2020. That means almost three decades—what an incredible achievement.
Chusovitina, who is currently 46 years old, is the most senior athlete in gymnastics. When all gymnasts decided to retire in their 20s, Chusovitina actually went far beyond what she dreamed of and became an example for many young gymnasts.
Artistic gymnastics athletes usually train from the age of five by training up to 40 hours a week. These exercises force the body to reach the limit of flexibility and sometimes even exceed it. So often seen, gymnastic athletes tend to be short and muscular.
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Records related to the young retirement of gymnast athletes can be seen in the footsteps of Mary Lou Retton and Jordyn Wieber. Retton, who won gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, retired at 18, while Wieber, a contestant at the 2012 London Olympics, retired at 19. So Chusovitina's achievements are indeed extraordinary, even beyond common sense.
Chusovitina debuted at the world championships in 1991 at the age of 16, representing the Soviet Union. She immediately brought home three medals, one of which was gold. At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, she won a gold medal in the USSR gymnastics team. Her work then continued by representing his home country, Uzbekistan, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympics.
Chusovitina's story continues to get more and more interesting. At the age of 27, Chusovitina had to make a big decision regarding her baby, Alisher Kupranov. Her son, who was 3 years old at the time, was diagnosed with leukemia. The limited health facilities in Uzbekistan made Chusovitina move to Germany.
For the sake of her child, Chusovitina later became a German citizen in 2006 and competed under the German flag at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. At that time, she managed to get a silver medal in the vault number. After her son recovered, Chusovitina returned to Uzbekistan in 2013. A great sacrifice for her son and established herself as a gymnast who has represented three countries.
But, thanks to her son's condition, Chusovitina went further than many people in the gymnastics world thought. After her achievements in Beijing, Chusovitina couldn't be stopped by anyone. She never even missed any world championships in artistic gymnastics.
Simon Biles, an American gymnast, idolizes Chusovitina even though she knows that her senior is more experienced and capable of being a formidable opponent. One of the stories was at the 2016 Rio Olympics when Chusovitina chased Biles' numbers to win gold. Chuso then tried to do Produnova or a technique known as "The vault of death." This is because the risk is very dangerous if you make the wrong move.
Unfortunately, Chusovitina's efforts failed because they ran out of time and landed imperfectly. Luckily, she was not injured and was able to return to compete until Tokyo 2020.
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In Tokyo, Chusovitina ended her career in vault after failing to reach the final with an average score of 14,166. Her presence in Tokyo is a promise to see her own abilities. She really wanted to compete in Tokyo and then resigned from the world of gymnastics.
"I am taking it step-by-step to see how far physically my body will take me. Of course, I want to do more, otherwise I would not be training. I want to compete in Tokyo and retire," said Chusovitina.
Despite playing in the middle of the stadium without spectators, Chusovitina received a standing ovation from other gymnasts. Before getting off the competition floor, she even had a chance to take a photo with another gymnast, even younger than her 22-year-old son.
"It was really nice," she said. "I cried tears of happiness because so many people have supported me for a long time."
The achievements of the legendary gymnast of Uzbekistan were immortalized in the Best Athlete of Decade award in Uzbekistan 2020. Chusovitina's name was also engraved in the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in May 2017. An achievement that is very difficult for any athlete to repeat today.
Thank you, Chusovitina.
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