4 Things to Know About Oksana Chusovitina

German gymnast Oksana Chusovitina competes on vault at the 2008 Olympics
Oksana Chusovitina on vault at the 2008 Olympics. © Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

She is a superhuman.

Most elite gymnasts last until their early to mid-20s, max – and many retire long before that. But Oksana Chusovitina's career has lasted more than double the time of most elites. Her first Olympics was in Barcelona in 1992, and she's now competed in a record six, spanning up to London in 2012. (For comparison, the oldest member of the US Olympic team in London, Aly Raisman, was born in 1994.

Kyla Ross, the youngest member of the team, was born after Chusovitina competed in her second Olympics, in 1996.)

Chusovitina continued to win medals long into her 30s, too. At age 33, she won the silver medal on vault at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and in 2007, she earned the vault bronze at the European Championships. At the London Olympics in 2012, she missed an Olympic medal but still made vault finals, finishing fifth overall. At the 2013 worlds she again qualified into vault finals and finished fifth – at the age of 38!

Though she missed the 2014 worlds with injury, she competed at the 2015 worlds, and threw one of the hardest vaults ever done: the Produnova, a front handspring double front. Though she fell on it and failed to qualify for vault finals, her presence in the competition is incredible.

No female gymnast has matched her longevity, or even come close.  On the men's side, Jordan Jovtchev has competed in six Olympics as well, but if Chusovitina competes in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, she will have had a longer competitive career than any other male or female gymnast in history.

She's a mom.

Chusovitina is already remarkable for her two decade-long elite career. She's also one of the few elite gymnasts to return to the sport after giving birth. After marrying Olympic wrestler Bakhodir Kurbanov in 1997, she had son, Alisher, in November of 1999.

Chusovitina barely skipped a beat, competing at the 2000 Olympics less than a year later, and earning the vault silver less than two years later at the 2001 worlds in Ghent, Belgium.

She's competed for three different countries.

And four different flags. Chusovitina started her career as a Soviet gymnast. At the 1991 worlds, she won gold with the Soviet team and individually in the floor finals, and won a silver on vault. Then in 1992, she earned gold again with The Unified Team (the name the former Soviet republics competed under at the Barcelona Games.)  After the Soviet republics officially became their own countries, Chusovitina competed for Uzbekistan at the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympics.

Chusovitina's son, Alisher, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002, and the family moved to Germany for his treatment.  Chusovitina trained with the German national team, and after becoming a German citizen in 2006, competed for Germany at the Beijing and London Olympics. Alisher responded well to the treatment at the University of Cologne in Germany, and has since been declared healthy and cancer-free. 

Since the London Games, Chusovitina has represented Uzbekistan again in competition.

She's invented four different skills.

Chusovitina is credited with four different moves, across three events: the hop full and full-out dismount on uneven bars, the front handspring piked front full on vault, and the full-twisting double layout on floor.

The full-twisting double layout on floor and front full on vault are considered to be especially difficult gymnastics skills.

Chusovitina's Stats:

Oksana Chusovitina was born June 19, 1975 in Bukhara, now a city in Uzbekistan.

Gymnastics Results:

2013 World Championships: 5th vault
2012 Olympic Games: 5th vault
2011 World Championships: 2nd vault
2008 Olympic Games: 2nd vault
2006 World Championships: 3rd vault
2005 World Championships: 2nd vault
2003 World Championships: 1st vault
2002 World Championships: 3rd vault
2001 World Championships: 2nd vault
1993 World Championships: 3rd vault
1992 Olympic Games: 1st team
1992 World Championships: 3rd vault
1991 World Championships: 1st team; 2nd vault; 1st floor

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Deusen, Amy Van. "4 Things to Know About Oksana Chusovitina." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/gymnast-oksana-chusovitina-1714603. Deusen, Amy Van. (2017, March 3). 4 Things to Know About Oksana Chusovitina. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/gymnast-oksana-chusovitina-1714603 Deusen, Amy Van. "4 Things to Know About Oksana Chusovitina." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/gymnast-oksana-chusovitina-1714603 (accessed September 20, 2017).