Oksana Chusovitina, a 46-year-old gymnast, said she plans to bid for a ninth Olympics in 2024 in Paris, according to the Uzbekistan Olympic Committee.
Chusovitina said before the Tokyo Olympics that those would be her final Games. After her last routine, a vault in qualifying, she waved and blew kisses, made a heart shape with her hands and got back on top of the competition podium to acknowledge the small arena crowd.
Two months later, she said she would return for the 2022 Asian Games. Last Friday, those Asian Games, scheduled for Hangzhou, China, this September, were postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Then over the weekend, Chusovitina won the vault title at the Uzbekistan national championships. When asked how the Asian Games postponement affected her plans, potentially continuing into 2023, she said she will go all the way through the 2024 Paris Games, according to the report.
Her best shot at qualifying for Paris will come on vault in the 2024 World Cup series, where the top two eligible, not already qualified women per apparatus will earn spots at the Games.
Last year, Chusovitina became the oldest female gymnast in Olympic history, breaking her own record for Olympic gymnastics appearances with eight. She is one shy of the Olympic appearances record for a woman in any sport, held by Georgian shooter Nino Salukvadze, who competed in Tokyo at age 52, according to Olympedia.org.
Chusovitina began her career competing for the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. After the breakup, she later represented the Unified Team, her native Uzbekistan and Germany (where her son, Alisher, received leukemia treatment) before going back to Uzbekistan.
She owns two Olympic medals — team gold from Barcelona 1992 and vault silver from Beijing 2008.
Chusovitina also has nine world championships medals on vault, the most recent in 2011, and was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2017.
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