‘Grandmother’ of gymnastics defies age

LOVING COUPLE: Oksana Chusovitina is lifted by wrestler and husband Bakhodir Kurbanovan in this 2002 picture. – APpic

MELBOURNE: In most sports, reaching the age of 30 often signals impending retirement, particularly in the physically demanding world of gymnastics where many competitors are in their teens. 

Retirement, however, is not on the agenda of Uzbekistan's Oxana Chusovitina, who won a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona representing the former Soviet Union. 

The 30-year-old, who is married to two-time Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler Bakhodir Kurbanov, says she intends to compete in the Beijing Olympics and possibly even beyond. 

“If everything is alright I am looking forward to competing in Beijing in 2008 and then who knows, maybe I will continue, it depends,” she said yesterday on the eve of the 38th World Artistic Gymnastics Championships here. 

What is even more remarkable about her longevity in a sport where extraordinary suppleness and intensive training are a must, is that she is caring for her six-year-old son Alisher, who has leukaemia, at the same time. 

But the naturally reserved Chusovitina, who is hoping to defend her vault gold medal from Anaheim two years ago, insists she is no different from any other hard-working mother. 

“I'm doing what every woman is doing. You must take care of your home and everything, your husband and child.” 

“The most important thing is to just be optimistic and not to get into a bad mood or get depressed, just believe you can do it.” – AFP  

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