TOKYO — The legendary career of 46-year-old gymnast Oksana Chusovitina came to an end Sunday night after her record-setting eighth Olympic appearance.
Competing for Uzbekistan on vault during qualifying, Chusovitina narrowly failed to reach the event final with a 14.166 score.
As soon as she realized her score wasn’t high enough, Chusovitina emotionally waved to the small crowd and put her hands into the shape of a heart. She cried briefly before posing for photographs with many of her peers and flashing the peace sign to cameras.
Chusovitina made her first Olympic appearance in 1992 — nearly five years before Simone Biles was born — as a member of the gold-medal-winning Unified team made up of athletes from the former Soviet Union. She has since represented Uzbekistan and Germany, making her one of just two female gymnasts to represent three different nations at the Games. She took home the silver medal on vault in 2008 as part of the German team.
Chusovitina has won 11 world medals throughout her illustrious career and has five eponymous skills. In a sport known for its youth and the success of teenagers, Chusovitina has become a global fan favorite thanks to her longevity and unwavering passion for the sport. She was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2017.
Chusovitina previously announced she was going to retire after the 2012 Olympics, but came back soon after. She insisted this time would be different.
“My son is 22 years old and I want to spend time with him,” she told reporters, according to the Guardian. “I want to be a mom and wife.”
Gymnast Oksana Chusovitina, 46, bids farewell after record-setting eighth appearance in Olympics
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