Monday, August 11, 2008

Amazing woman

Age no barrier for oldest female gymnast

BEIJING, Aug 10:
Now aged 33, German gymnast Oksana Chusovitina began competing internationally before most of her rivals in Beijing were even born – yet she stormed into the final of the women's vault on Sunday.The remarkable Chusovitina, appearing at her fifth Olympics for her third team, not only made the final but did it in style, qualifying fourth to give herself a real shot at a podium finish in the final on Sunday, August 16.It she succeeds, Chusovitina can place the medal next to the women's team gold she won at the Barcelona Games in 1992, along with three golds, three silvers and four bronze at world championship level since 1991.

When the oldest women's gymnast at the Beijing Games is asked about how she remains motivated to pit herself against opponents half her age, Chusovitina, whose international career began in 1987, simply cites a love of the sport.“I think it's valuable for any sportsperson at the Olympic Games to have motivation, regardless of age” she said through an interpreter.

“I don't feel 33-years-old and I look young don't I?”True to her 'you're only as old as you feel' approach, Chusovitina says she has no plans to retire.“I feel perfect and I feel young, I will retire when it's time to go,” she said. “It's my secret. I live gymnastics and it's my life.”

After the Soviet Union disintegrated in the early 1990s, Chusovitina competed for the Unified team in Barcelona, where she won team gold.She then represented her native Uzbekistan from 1993, winning the country's first world championship gold in 2003 before switching to Germany in 2006.

The last change in nationality was brought about by a desire to seek top medical treatment for her son Alisher's leukaemia, which she says has proved successful.

Her 16-year-old team-mate Marie-Sophie Hindermann said Chusovitina was an inspiration to her colleagues.“Oksana always knows how to focus her power,” she said. “She doesn't do a lot of training, she does things once and she does it well.”—AFP

I wish they would show more stories like this on the Olympics instead of just focusing on the US and China athletes. We are missing so much. This should be as big a headline, if not more, than Dara Torres, but we just heard about it. She qualified for the vault finals, which is awesome. I actually remember her from back in the day.

They mentioned that a lot of gymnasts across the world helped pay for her son's treatment, including Valeri Luikin---good for him. How crazy that this woman, who was his teammate back in the day, is not competiting against his daughter in this Olympics.


Amanda said...

I love, love, love this story! MAkes me cry when I think about it. And she did so well in the vault. Good for her!


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