HANGZHOU, China (AP) — Oksana Chusovitina competed in her first Olympics at the 1992 Barcelona Games and won a gold medal in gymnastics. Her first title in a big meet came in 1988 at the junior nationals in the Soviet Union.
Chusovitina is 48 now and still competing for Uzbekistan — and she’s not done yet despite the fact her competition is generations younger. Few were even born when she won Olympic gold.
She finished fourth in the vault this week at the Asian Games and said she’s aiming for next year’s Paris Olympics, when she would be 49.
The youngest gymnast at the Asian Games is 15-year-old Anfissa Ivanova of Kazakhstan. Chusovitina is more than three times older.
“We will work for qualification for Paris,” Chusovitina said Friday through an interpreter. “If I pass the qualification and advance I will definitely work very hard to prepare for the Paris Olympic Games because Paris will be a very big platform for me.”
Then she was asked the follow-up question. Will she retire if she misses Paris?
“If next year I can’t qualify,” she said, ”maybe I will give up my career. Or maybe not. But I do not want to give you a conclusion now.”
Chusovitina might be around big events into her 50s, amazing given the physical toll the sport takes, and the mental drag of daily training.
“Never give up your dreams,” she said. “Never stop. I have had a lot of great moments. I have enjoyed this sport very much. That’s what keeps motivating me.”
Gymnastics wrapped up on Friday with five gold medals. China won three and Japan picked up two.
Wataru Tanigawa of Japan won the men’s vault, with silver for Mahdi Olfati of Iran and bronze for Aimy Muhammand Sharul of Malaysia. Mana Okamura of Japan won gold in the beam, with silver for Tang Xijing of China and bronze for Ting Hua-TIen of Tawian.
Zou Jingyuan of China picked up gold in the men’s parallel bars. Japenese teammates Takeu Kitazono Kakeru Tanigawa got silver and bronze, respectively.
Zhang Jin of China won gold in women’s floor exercise, and teammate Zhang Boheng took gold in horizontal bar.
TRACK AND FIELD
Track and field started its seven-day run on Friday. And of course, China dominated there as it has across the board since the games opened a week ago.
China won both race walk medals, the first two of the athletics program. Zhang Jun won the men’s 20-kilometer walk while teammate Wang Zhaozhao got silver and Yutaro Murayama of Japan earned bronze.
Yang Jiayu won the women’s 20-kilometer version. Teammate Ma Zhenxia won silver and Nanako Fujii of Japan took bronze.
“It was quite touching to have so many spectators cheering for me during the competition here at home,” Zhang said.
China won its 100th gold medal of the competion on Friday, less than a full week into the two-week event. China won 132 gold medals in the last Asian Games in Indonesia five years ago.
South Korea and Japan are the nearest rivals, but their gold-medal tallies are in the 20s.
Countries almost always win more medals than usual as the hosts of big events. China has focused on this event, using the stage to show off the eastern city of Hangzhou.
Tennis opened on Friday with an all-China final in women’s singles, where Zheng Qinwen defeated Zhu Lin 6-2,-6-4.
The men’s double title went to the Taiwanese pair Hsu Yu-hsiou and Jason Jung. The defeated Saketh Myneni and Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 6-4, 6-4.
AP sports: https://apnews.com/sports