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Gymnast Oksana Chusovitina’s quest to qualify for record 9th Olympic Games at age 48 ends with injury

Oksana Chusovitina, the 48-year-old gymnast from Uzbekistan, will not compete in a record-extending ninth Olympic Games this summer. (Photo by Frank Hammerschmidt/photo alliance via Getty Images)

Oksana Chusovitina’s time as an Olympic athlete is over. After a professional career that lasted almost 35 years and included eight Olympic Games, the 48-year-old’s dream of reaching a ninth Olympic Games has ended after an injury during podium training at the Asian Gymnastics Championships, which take place in her home country Uzbekistan.

Chusovitina, a safe specialist, announced the news on Instagram. The English translation is included in the text below:

“My dear friends, fans and everyone who loves gymnastics! Unfortunately, I have sad news for you.

“Yesterday, while training on the podium of the Asian Championships, which take place in Tashkent and are a qualifying event for the Olympic Games in Paris, I was injured during the floor exercise. I will not be able to participate and I am very upset because I already prepared for this competition for a long time. I started doing all-round and I wanted to perform in our country, in front of our fans. But unfortunately you won’t see me among the participants tomorrow come and support. That’s what I’m going to do tomorrow!”

Chusovitina already holds the records for most Olympic appearances for a gymnast (male or female) and the oldest gymnast to compete in the Olympics. Although she didn’t mention retirement, the Olympics (and Olympic qualifying events) have been her focus in recent years. She will be 52 when the 2028 Olympics take place in Los Angeles, and while you can never discount Chusovitina, this feels like the end of her Olympic career.

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But it has been a long and illustrious career for Chusovitina. She started competing for the Soviet Union in 1990, but after the fall of the USSR, she competed as part of the Unified Team at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. She and the rest of the gymnastics team took home gold in the team event, the only Olympic gold medal of her career. She also won bronze on vault in Beijing in 2008, her only individual Olympic medal. In total, she has won 35 medals in international competitions.

Born in Uzbekistan, Chusovitina spent several years fighting for her homeland, but spent a long period in Germany after her son and only child, Alisher, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. With the help of friends, she and her husband, Uzbek wrestler Bakhodir Kurpanov, moved to Cologne so Alisher could receive the latest medical treatment at the University of Cologne. She competed for Germany after becoming a citizen in 2006.

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Chusovitina originally said she would retire after the 2012 Summer Olympics, but she changed her mind. Instead, she returned to Uzbekistan and has been representing them ever since. Alisher eventually went into remission after six years of treatment.

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