“On the podium, everyone is the same whether you are 40 or 16. You have to go out and do your routine and your jumps.”
Over a gymnastics career that has spanned more than a quarter century, she’s won nine world championship medals on vault (a record for most individual medals on a single apparatus) plus one on floor, she’s a veteran Olympic medalist (gold and silver), and, at age 41, is currently competing in her 7th straight Olympic games. Here are 5 things you should know about Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina, the oldest Olympic female gymnast in history, who’s determined to win in Rio.
1. She began competing at the international level in 1989 and has been winning medals since before many of her competitors were born.
2. She made her Olympic debut at the 1992 Barcelona Games, and won a gold medal there as a member of the Unified Team (made up of athletes from former Soviet countries).
3. She represented her native Uzbekistan at the 1996 Atlanta Games, the 2000 Sydney Games—just 10 months after giving birth to her son—and the 2004 Athens Games.
4. She moved to Germany to ensure better treatment for her son, who was diagnosed with leukemia as a toddler in 2002. She switched her citizenship to compete for her new country, and at the 2008 Beijing Olympics won a silver medal on the vault.
5. At the 2012 London Olympics she finished fifth in the vault final. The next year she began representing Uzbekistan again. Her most recent victory was a silver medal on vault at the 2014 Asian Games.
Two days ago, Oksana earned a 14.999 combined score to qualify for the vault final in Rio. That event is scheduled for this Sunday, August 14th. So stay tuned…