PETALING JAYA: One is excited to compete in her first Olympics. The other has not lost her zeal despite it being her eighth Games.
Get ready to see the vast difference in experience when national artistic gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi rubs shoulders with the oldest gymnast in the world, Oksana Chusovitina from Uzbekistan, at the Tokyo Games.
Farah and Chusovitina will be in group four in the individual all-around qualification, which will also have four other gymnasts from Spain, Canada and France respectively.
The qualification starts on July 25.
The 46-year-old Chusovitina has been competing in every Games since she made her debut at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
In her first Games, she won gold in the team event and went on to win a silver in the vault event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Chusovitina has also won 11 world championship medals (three golds, four silvers and four bronzes); two World Cup medals (one gold and bronze); and medals in Asian Games (8), Asian Championship (4) and European Championship (4).
She is the only female gymnast to compete at the Olympics under three different national teams, the Soviet Union in 1992, Uzbekistan in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2016 and Germany in 2008 and 2012.
In the last Olympics, Chusovitina finished seventh in the vault, which was won by United States’ Simone Biles, who is younger than her by 22 years.
For Farah, it is an honour to compete alongside one of the greats of the sport.
“She is the ultimate gymnast. Imagine competing in her eighth Olympics and proving that age is just a number. She is an inspiration to many gymnasts, including myself,” said Farah.
When asked if she can emulate Chusovitina, Farah said, “Let’s just say she is the only gymnast to go over 40 in the sport. I am 27 now and just want to enjoy what I do now.
“I admit, when I was 16, if I had said I would go on until 27, I would be lying.
“But thanks to sports science and change in training methods, I have competed for a long time in artistic gymnastics.
“As you grow older, you understand and appreciate a lot of things. You know why you’re competing. I’ve to thank my coaches who have understood me well and made sure every session is something to remember.”