This is not related to books! However, at the Olympics the women’s vault final in the gymnastics competition is on very soon, and I wanted to mention one of the competitors.
Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina is the last Soviet gymnast, and now – twenty-five years after the collapse of the USSR – she is still going strong.
World Champion for the Soviet Union in 1991, Olympic Champion for the Unified Team in 1992, World Champion for Uzbekistan in 2003, Olympic silver medallist for Germany in 2008.
Oksana is a mother of a grown son (who was terminally ill as a child) who is older than many of the gymnasts she is competing against, a coach, and now at forty-one – in the hardest sport there is – is in another Olympic final.
Chusovitina (4th from left). 1992 Olympic Champion.
She has survived the collapse of her training system. Her best event – vault – is now performed on a totally different apparatus, and she learnt how to do that, and still win World and Olympic medals on it. She has learnt entirely different skills from those she was taught in the 1980s.
She trains herself most of the time – unlike gymnasts from other countries who have gazillions poured into their gymnastics programs.
For me, this is the most amazing story of the Olympic Games, and if you’re talking about “greatest” in relation to gymnastics, she has to be one of the closest to it. Every Olympics has a teenage It Girl, but there’s only one Chusovitina.