Twenty years after Uzbekistan-born Oksana Chusovitina won her first Olympic medal, she told IG she hopes to upgrade her difficulty when she competes for Germany in this summer's London Games – her sixth Olympic start.
The German championships taking place this weekend in Düsseldorf also serve as the first stage of Germany's Olympic trials for London, but Chusovitina is considered a lock for the women' team.
Chusovitina, who will turn 37 on June 19, placed second on vault at last month's European championships in Brussels, where she performed a Rudi and a 1-1/2 twisting Tsukahara.
Five-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina (Germany)
"For London I will prepare as a second vault a double-twisting Tsukahara, and I hope that it will happen for me," said Chusovitina, who won the European vault title in 2008.
Born in Bukhara, Chusovitina trained under coach Svetlana Kuznetsova while competing for the Soviet Union, Commonwealth of Independent States, Unified Team and independent Uzbekistan through 2004. She relocated to Germany after her son, Alisher, began undergoing treatment for leukemia there in 2002.
Chusovitina competed in the past five Olympic Games, starting with the 1992 Barcelona Games, where she won a team gold medal and finished seventh on floor exercise. Representing Germany in Olympic competition for the first time at the 2008 Games in Beijing, she won the silver medal on vault and finished ninth all-around.
In addition to Chusovitina's impressive longevity in Olympic competition, she has won 11 medals in world championships competition, beginning with the 1991 worlds in Indianapolis, where she won two gold medals (team, and tie on floor exercise). She has won nine world championships medals on vault, including gold in 2003 and silver in 1991 (tie), 2001, 2005 and 2011.
Chusovitina will be by far the oldest female gymnast competing in London, but she insists her experience and age continue to motivate her. She also serves as the head coach for the Uzbek women, who qualified one gymnast (either Luiza Galiulina or Daria Yelizarova) to London.
"I really enjoy gymnastics and I love doing it," said Chusovitina, who now trains under coach Shanna Poljakova in Cologne. "I come to training with big desire, and to do everything with pleasure."
Chusovitina said she plans to compete on vault and balance beam in London, and is eager to perform with enthusiasm whether or not it will be her final competition.
"This is my sixth Olympic Games, and I am simply happy to perform in them," she told IG. "In London I shall finish my competitive career, but maybe not...!"