46 just a number Uzbek gymnast Oksana Chusovitina

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Oksana had an incredible career, with her first Olympic participation dating back to Barcelona 1992.
Oksana had an incredible career, with her first Olympic participation dating back to Barcelona 1992.

Uzbek gymnast Oksana Chusovitina received a rousing farewell in her eighth Olympic campaign at the Tokyo 2020 Games proving that camaraderie and respect in sport still prevails.

Oksana had an incredible career, with her first Olympic participation dating back to Barcelona 1992. She was the Soviet all-around champion at just 13. In 1991, she became the world champion in floor exercises. She bagged gold in the team event and silver in vault at Barcelona and the 2008 Beijing Games respectively.

Oksana’s career is also an embodiment of the political upheaval that sent shock waves through the Soviet Union. Having competed under the Soviet flag, she would also represent the Commonwealth of Independent States (Unified Team), and later on her native Uzbekistan when the Soviet Union collapsed.

She had also competed for Germany, when she had relocated there, while trying to find treatment for her son’s leukemia. After that she would returned to compete for Uzbekistan.

For Oksana, it’s her burning passion for gymnastics that fuelled her successful and long career. She announced her retirement at the 2012 edition but reversed the decision 24 hours later.

Oksana Chusovitina

“There is no secret. I love gymnastics and no one ever forced me to do it. I do it with pleasure.”

Beating all odds, Oksana competed in Tokyo even at the age of 46. Unfortunately, she could not book a place in the vault final and had to bid adieu a day after the opening day of the women’s competition. As her final campaign came to an end, an already emotional Oksana realised that she was receiving an ovation from all present and could not hold her tears . She is a true legend of the sport and brought glory to her country.

It is safe to say that since there were no fans present at the arena, Oksana was deprived of a resounding farewell from thousands of fans who would have been present there otherwise.  Her fellow adversaries, however, did not let her feel the absence of spectators. Every coach and gymnast took a moment to hail her exemplary career and came together to applaud her. It was a beautiful and emotionally charged moment and arguably the most heartwarming moment of the Tokyo Games.

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Oksana could not hold back her tears and wrapped her arms around her coach in a tight hug.

“These were tears of joy because so many people were supporting me.”

Six-time Olympic medallist Alexandra Raisman, took to Twitter to describe Oksana’s journey. “No words to describe how impressive that is. Forever an icon.”

Oksana’s determination and adaptability allowed her to keep up with the changing times and had the global gymnastics community in awe. She is an inspiration for many and has proved that age could never be a barrier if one sets his/her mind at accomplishing something.

Now that her career is at a close, Oksana is eager to devote more of her time to her family. She also wants to set up a sports club in Tashkent, the Uzbek capital.

Text Courtesy: Sport Savour