The Olympics never fail to produce amazing stories, but at the top of that list might be the amazing story of gymnast Oksana Chusovitina.
Chusovitina is a 41-year-old (41!) mother from Uzbekistan and is competing in her seventh Olympic Games. That is not only a record by itself, but mind-boggling considering the sport she competes in.
Chusovitina was a member of Germany’s gold medal-winning team in 1992 — the same year as the U.S. Dream Team basketball team — and she won an individual silver medal in the vault during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Many of Chusovitina’s competitors are around half her age or younger, and her 16-year-old son is seven months older than Laurie Hernandez, a member of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics squad.
The big question is: how in the world does Chusovitina keep herself fit enough to continue competing at a high level in a sport that’s normally dominated by people who were born after she won her first Olympic gold medal?
“I do a lot of mental training. I have muscle memory that my body has developed over the years. I typically put in two to two-and-a-half hours in the gym…then I visualise exactly how the skill needs to be done. I do this in my head, and when I get to the gym, all the mental preparation that I did after breakfast or just walking around, it just transfers to the gym and, if I’m vaulting, I know exactly what my body needs to be doing.”
Basically, Chusovitina has been doing this for so long that she doesn’t need to go to the gym and spends hours upon hours practicing. All she needs to do to succeed is just think about it and she can get it done.
Not bad in a sport where 22-year-old Aly Raisman is nicknamed “Grandma Aly” by her teammates.
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