Ageless Chusovitina Turns 33
"I feel perfectly, like I'm still 18 years old!" she told IG this week.
A German citizen since 2006, Chusovitina defines "veteran" like no other gymnast today. Many of her competitors were not yet born when she won her first world championships gold medal in 1991.
Today a mother to a 9-year-old son, Chusovitina presses on with impressive results. In 2008 she won the vault title at the European Championships, and the all-around title at the German national championships.
"I continue training because I really love gymnastics and I still have a zeal for it," she said.
Under coach Svetlana Kuznetsova, Chusovitina made her world debut at the 1991 World Championships in Indianapolis. Originally the alternate to the Soviet team, she moved into the lineup when teammate Yelena Grudneva was injured.
Chusovitina delivered the goods in competition in Indianapolis, helping her team win the gold medal and winning the silver medal on vault and tying for the floor exercise gold.
In Indianapolis she also added three new moves to the Code of Points: the hop full and full-out on uneven bars and a layout full-out on floor exercise. She still competes all three elements today.
Following a team gold medal with the Unified team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Chusovitina began competing for her native Uzbekistan. From 1993 to 2005 she won five medals on vault for her native country, and finished 10th in the all-around at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
She married Uzbek wrestler Bakhodir Kurpanov in 1997. She missed the 1997 and 1999 Worlds after suffering a torn Achilles, and becoming a mother to Alisher.
In the fall of 2002, Alisher was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. Facing a lack of medical resources in Uzbekistan, she brought Alisher to Germany to seek treatment at the University of Cologne. Fundraisers and donations from gymnastics fans helped the family pay for the treatment.
She accepted an offer to compete for the Germany team in 2003, but had to wait an additional three years for citizenship. Chusovitina, who now trains with Shanna Polyakova in Cologne, said Alisher is healthy and happy today.
"Alisher is doing well," she said. "He is in second grade, and he does gymnastics too — he really loves it!"
With the Olympics in Beijing less than two months away, she had no extravagant plans to celebrate her 33rd, she said Wednesday.
"My plans are the same as always — preparing for the Olympics so I can show everything I can do!" she said.