Oksana Aleksandrovna Chusovitina (Russian: Оксана Александровна Чусовитина; born June 19, 1975 in Bukhara, Uzbek SSR, USSR) is an Uzbek two-time Olympic medalist and World Champion gymnast. She was formerly a citizen of, and a competitor for, the Soviet Union/ Unified Team (before 1993) and Germany (2006–2012).
To date, Chusovitina's career in elite gymnastics has spanned almost 30 years. She won the USSR Junior Nationals in 1988 and began competing at the international level in 1989, before many of her current rivals were even born. She is the only female gymnast ever to compete in seven Olympic Games, and is one of only two female gymnasts to compete at the Olympics under three different national teams: the Unified Team in 1992; Uzbekistan in 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2016; and Germany in 2008 and 2012. Chusovitina has also competed in 10 World Championships, three Asian Games and three Goodwill Games. In addition, Chusovitina holds the record for the most individual world championships medals on a single event (9, on the vault).
Chusovitina is also one of only a handful of women, along with Cuban Leyanet Gonzalez, Soviet legend Larisa Latynina, and Dutch Olympian Suzanne Harmes, to return to high-level gymnastics and international competition after becoming a mother. Australia's head women's coach, Peggy Liddick, said Chusovitina is a role model and an inspiration.
Chusovitina began gymnastics in 1982. In 1988, at the age of 13, she won the all-around title at the USSR National Championships in the junior division.
By 1990, Chusovitina was a vital member of the Soviet team, and was sent to compete in various international meets. She was the vault gold medalist at the 1990 Goodwill Games and nearly swept the 1990 World Sports Fair in Japan, winning the all-around and every event except the uneven bars. The following year she won the floor exercise gold at the 1991 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships and placed second on the vault. In 1992 Chusovitina competed at the Olympics with the Unified Team, shared in the team gold medal and placed seventh in the floor final. She also won her second World Championships vault medal, a bronze.
After the 1992 Olympics, when the former Soviet gymnasts returned to their home republics, Chusovitina began competing for Uzbekistan and training with the Uzbekistan head coach Svetlana Kuznetsova. Conditions at the national training facility in Tashkent were a far cry from the Soviet Round Lake training center, and Chusovitina was forced to practice on antiquated, and in some cases, unsafe equipment. In spite of this setback, she was able to consistently produce world-class routines.
Chusovitina represented Uzbekistan from 1993 to 2006 and competed for them at the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympics, the 1994, 1998 and 2002 Asian Games and the 1994 and 2001 Goodwill Games. During this era she was the strongest gymnast on the Uzbekistan national team, earning over 70 medals in international competitions and qualifying to the Olympics three times.
For her contributions to gymnastics, Chusovitina was granted the title of "Honored Athlete of the Republic of Uzbekistan" by the Uzbekistan Ministry of Cultural and Sports Affairs. In 2001, she was named as the first WAG representative to the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG)'s Athletes' Commission. In addition, Chusovitina graduated from the Sports University in Tashkent.
In late 1997 Chusovitina married Uzbekistani Olympic wrestler Bakhodir Kurpanov. The two originally met at the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima, where they were both competing. The couple's son, Alisher, was born in November 1999.
In 2002, Alisher was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). Seeking advanced medical treatment for their son, Chusovitina and her husband accepted an offer of help from Shanna and Peter Brüggemann, head coaches of the Toyota Cologne club, and moved to Germany. With prize money earned from gymnastics competitions, along with the help of the Brüggemanns and members of the international gymnastics community who fundraised and donated to the cause, Chusovitina was able to secure treatment for Alisher at the University of Cologne's hospital. While Alisher underwent treatment in Cologne, Chusovitina trained with the German team.
Uzbekistan released Chusovitina to compete for Germany in 2003. However, due to rules requiring three years of residency, she was unable to gain German citizenship immediately. From 2003 to 2006 she trained in Germany but continued to compete for Uzbekistan, representing them at the 2003 and 2005 World Championships and the 2004 Olympics. In 2003, thirteen years after her World Championships debut, Chusovitina won the gold medal on the vault at that year's World Championships in Anaheim.
In 2006, Chusovitina obtained German citizenship. Her first competition for Germany was the 2006 World Championships, where she won a bronze medal on the vault and placed ninth in the all-around.
As of 2008, Chusovitina was still active on the international competition circuit. In July 2007, she won the all-around title at the 2007 German National Championships. At her first European Championships, she placed second on the vault. At the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart, Chusovitina helped the German squad to a 10th place finish in the preliminary round, which qualified them to send a full team to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where she was the oldest female competitor in her discipline. She qualified for the vault event final where she finished in 2nd place, thus earning the first individual Olympic medal of her career. Chusovitina competed on three events at the 2008 Women's European Championships in Clermont-Ferrand, France, helping the German team to a 7th place finish in the team finals. In the vault event final, she defeated reigning European champion Carlotta Giovannini to win the gold medal.
At the Olympics, the German team placed 12th in the qualifying round of competition. Chusovitina qualified to the individual all-around final, where she placed 9th overall. She also qualified in fourth place for the vault final. In the vault final, she won the silver medal with a score of 15.575.
Despite earlier claims that she would attempt to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, Chusovitina announced in April 2009 that she intended to participate in the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships in October, but indicated that she will not continue. The championships, she stated, are "enough."
Oksana Chusovitina then took that statement back after she tore her Achilles in early 2009. She has competed in some competitions in 2010 (including the 2010 Houston National Invitational) and has stated she plans on competing in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
She won the silver medal on vault at the 2011 European Championships and the 2011 World Championships.
In 2012, she competed at the German Nationals, where she placed sixteenth in the all-around, second on vault and first on balance beam. A few months later, she was named to the German team for the Olympics.
During qualifications, Chusovitina qualified fourth to the vault event final. In the vault final, Chusovitina went up fifth. Her first vault scored a 15.100 and her second vault scored a 14.466, averaging out a 14.783. She finished fifth.
Most people expected her to retire after London, however Chusovitina competed the all-around at the Regionalliga Mitte in Stuttgart in early October, giving fans the idea that maybe she isn't quite ready to hang it up yet. Chusovitina does in fact plan to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, instead representing Uzbekistan after moving out of Germany.
In January, Chusovitina was announced as part of the lineup for the La Roche-sur-Yon World Cup. At the World Cup in March, she won a bronze medal on vault. She also won vault at the Cottbus World Cup later that month. She competed at the Gym Festival Trvana in Slovakia in June, winning the all-around and vault, and placing second on balance beam. She also won silver on vault at the Anadia World Cup in Portugal.
Chusovitina was one of two gymnasts representing Uzbekistan at the World Championships. She competed in the third subdivision and qualified to the vault final in sixth place. She performed third in the vault final, scoring a 14.633 on her handspring Rudi and a 14.533 on her 1½ twisting Tsukahara, averaging out to a 14.583. She finished fifth. Chusovitina went on to compete at the Mexico Open in November, where she won bronze in the all-around.
In September 2014, she returned to the Asian Games for the first time since 2002. Due to an injury, she only competed on vault. She won silver on vault and placed fifth with her team. In Incheon, she was coached by former teammate Svetlana Boginskaya. She missed the World Championships in Nanning, due to an injury sustained in Incheon. She recovered in time to compete at the Blume Memorial in November, placing fifth in the all-around. In December, she defended her all-around bronze medal at the Mexico Open.
In January 2015, she won vault gold, all-around and uneven bars silver, and placed fourth on floor and seventh on beam at the Houston National Invitational. At the Cottbus World Cup, she won the vault gold, competing a handspring front straight salto with full twist and Tsukahara straight with 1½ twist. She repeated her success at the Ljubljana World Cup in April. In May, she won another gold on vault and placed fourth on beam and eighth on uneven bars. She represented Uzbekistan at the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, where she competed a newly upgraded vault, the handspring double front. She did not qualify to the all-around or individual event finals, but she did qualify an individual spot at the Olympic Test Event in April.
In February 2016, she won vault gold and all-around silver at the Houston National Invitational, and vault bronze at the WOGA Classic. She won an additional vault title and placed eighth on balance beam at the Baku World Cup later that month. In early April, she won the vault title and placed fourth on balance beam and sixth on the uneven bars at the Cottbus World Cup. In April, she competed at the Olympic Test Event, winning vault silver and placing forty-fifth in the all-around. Her all-around placing qualified her to her seventh Olympic Games, making her the first female gymnast to accomplish this. In July, she competed at the Mersin World Cup in Turkey, winning gold on vault, silver on balance beam, and placing fourth on uneven bars.
Chusovitina competed in the first subdivision of qualifications. She only competed on vault and beam. In order to guarantee a spot in the vault final, she opted to perform safer vaults. She qualified in fifth place to the final. In the final, she performed the Produnova as her second vault, but landed extremely low, with her knees touching the mat, and the momentum from the vault caused her to do a forward roll out of it. She finished seventh in the final.
Following the vault final, she posted on her Instagram that she would be at the 2017 World Championships in Montreal, Canada. In December, she was added to the Guinness Book of World Records, as the gymnast with the most Olympic appearances.
Chusovitina started off her 2017 season at the International Gymnix in Montreal, winning silver on vault and placing sixth on balance beam. She went on to win vault at both the Baku World Cup and Doha World Cup, and additionally placing eighth on floor exercise in the latter competition.
1992 - "Triumphal March" by Khachatruan, from Spartacus
1993 - William Tell overture
1994 - "Peer Gynt" by Edvard Grieg
1996 & 2000 - theme from Phantom of the Opera
1997 - "Innuendo" by Queen