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Gymnast Shoots for Olympics at Age 44

Oksana Chusovitina waits to hear if she'll make the team for the 8th time
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2019 2:15 PM CDT
Uzbekistan's Oksana Chusovitina acknowledges the crowd after her vault routine at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
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(Newser) – Oksana Chusovitina intends to keep her mind off gymnastics until Saturday night, when she will find out whether she'll be competing in the Olympics for the eighth time. She'll look for distractions and maybe take a walk, USA Today reports. "But I will peek into my phone sometimes," she says. Chusovitina first competed in a world championship in 1991, on the Soviet team. She's outlasted so many of her competitors that, for example, one of her 1991 teammates has since had a daughter who made the Olympic team, won a title, and has been retired for a decade. Chusovitina has been to seven Olympics, she won a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics for the Soviet team, and she's 44.

"It doesn’t matter how old you are, it matters what you do," says Chusovitina. She has remained competitive through the decades in a sport dominated by younger athletes, making the finals in the vault at the world championship last year and finishing fourth. For a time, after moving from her native Uzbekistan to Germany, per the Telegraph, she was competing to win prize money to finance her son's medical treatment. "If I don't compete then my son won't live, it's as simple as that," she said at the time. Her motivation for making the Tokyo Olympics involves her native country. "I won a gold medal for the Soviet Union, I won a [silver] medal for the country that helped me, Germany," she says. "But I've never won a medal for Uzbekistan." (Read more Olympics stories.)

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