Record-breaking gymnast Oksana Chusovitina’s bid for ninth Olympics ends with injury at 48

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (AP) — Record-breaking 48-year-old gymnast Oksana Chusovitina says an injury has ended her attempt to qualify for what would have been her ninth Olympics.

Chusovitina said in a statement on Instagram that she had been injured while practicing her floor exercise ahead of the Asian championships in her home country of Uzbekistan. That was Chusovitina’s last opportunity to qualify for the upcoming Paris Olympics.

“I will not be able to take part and I am very upset as I have been preparing for this competition for a long time,” Chusovitina said in the statement Thursday. The competition was starting Friday, and Chusovitina said she would be there to support the rest of the Uzbekistan team.

Chusovitina’s long career is all the more striking in gymnastics, a sport where medalists are often in their teens and elite-level careers rarely last long. She has previously competed alongside gymnasts a third of her age.

Chusovitina won an Olympic gold medal in 1992 with the Unified Team of athletes from post-Soviet nations and a silver in the vault in 2008 representing Germany, where she lived at the time.

Chusovitina is one of the last remaining active athletes in any sport to have represented the Soviet Union, for which she won world championship gold in 1991 at the age of 16.

Only one female Olympian has competed at the Games more times that Chusovitina. Georgian shooter Nino Salukvadze marked her ninth Olympic appearance in Tokyo in 2021 and has qualified for this year’s Games in Paris.

Chusovitina has repeatedly retired and un-retired over the decades and made no statement on her future following her latest injury. She has previously left open the possibility she might carry on competing even if she misses the Paris Olympics.

“If next year I can’t qualify,” Chusovitina said in September at the Asian Games, ”maybe I will give up my career. Or maybe not. But I do not want to give you a conclusion now.”


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