January 1, 2009

Oksana Chusovitina Recovering from Two Injuries

Over the last couple of weeks several German newspapers have posted articles on Oksana Chusovitina. So far we've found three stories about the oldest competitor in women's gymnastics, all of which contain interesting tidbits on her life in Germany and Uzbekistan. Circumstances permitting, we'll translate and post all three stories at some point.

One interesting detail that pops up in all three of the recent interviews is that Chusovitina is recovering from not one but two injuries. On top of the Achilles tendon she tore at the Swiss Cup in November, she's recovering from a shoulder operation she recently underwent. Apparently Chuso tore a biceps tendon before the Olympics. It didn't bother her much in Beijing, but all the same she decided to have surgery. We can't imagine what it must be like to have limited use of both a leg and an arm simultaneously, but it doesn't seem to be keeping Chuso from going about her business. She actually sounds busy!

(photo: Reuters)

The story below, in which Chusovitina reveals which new vault she'd like to learn if she ever makes it back to the top, was published by Koelnische Rundschau, a local newspaper from the city of Cologne, on December 22. Enjoy!

Santa Shows Up on New Year's Eve

Naturally Oksana Chusovitina, silver medalist on vault in Beijing, will celebrate Christmas, but not quite the way we do it in Germany, with a Christmas tree and a crib. Still, there's a pine branch wreath hanging on the door of her small row house in Brauweiler, and there is plenty of Christmas-style candy inside the large living room.

"We're going to celebrate Christmas in Uzbekistan," reveals Oksana Chusovitina. The silver medalist on vault at the Beijing Olympics uses the Christmas period to meet up with friends and family in her home town of Bukhara. "On December 31 we'll have a party with up to 25 friends. We'll put presents for the children in front of the front door, and at some point someone will ring the bell and quickly disappear from view, and we'll tell the kids it was Santa. But last year we had a problem: All the children sat down right in front of the door, full of hope and anticipation, and none of us could leave the house unobserved to put the presents in place."

Oksana Chusovitina laughs. Her right foot, the one with the torn ACL, is in a protective boot which almost reaches her knee. Her right arm is in a sling, as she recently had shoulder surgery. [Note: According to two other articles, it's her left arm she was recently operated on, not the right one.] But her injuries are not affecting her mood, even though it's unclear whether she will ever compete at the highest level again.

Chuso's legs before her most recent accident. We suspect her right leg will be marred by another big scar. (Photo: Rob Carr/AP Photo)

"Obviously I hope I will [return to competition], and I have to say, this doesn't really feel like the end of my career," says the 33-year-old gymnast. But it remains to be seen whether she will really take part in her 10th world championships in October.

"I have two legs and two arms, so I can work," says the multiple world and European champion, ready for a challenge. In Tashkent she graduated with a degree in Sports Science, and in Cologne she has been known to coach the juniors of her club, the Toyota Team, on occasion.

Chusovitina's excess energy is currently channeled first and foremost into her son Alisher, for whom she is cooking noodles this afternoon, and into her home. "I'm cleaning and vacuuming all the time. Perhaps I should apply for a job as a sweeper for the curling team in the new year," she says with a smile. "Oh, and the garden is looking good, too."

Chuso and her impossibly cute son Alisher (photo: NBC)

It was because of her then critically ill son Alisher that Oksana and her husband Bahodir Kurbanov came to Cologne in 2003. The doctors at the Cologne Academic Medical Centre won the battle against leukemia. These days Alisher is in Grade 3 of a language school. Oksana speaks Russian to her son, who sometimes answers in Russian, sometimes in German. When it comes to sports, he is less divided in his allegiances. His father, who used to be a world-class wrestler, got the short end of the stick. Alisher is a gymnast who goes to the gym four times a week. "I want to get as good as my Mom," he says. And of course his Mom supports him, even though she doesn't really like watching him. "I'm always a little afraid," says Chusovitina.

Life hasn't really changed for the exceptional gymnast since she won her silver medal in Beijing, at her fifth Olympics. "I now have more press engagements and I get recognized on the street by strangers more often. They all wish me a speedy recovery, which is great," she says. She doesn't want another frenzy like the one in China, where she made an appearance on a talk show which was watched by 480 million people. "At the time I fled the Beijing Bazar because everybody wanted to touch me."

Her only source of bitterness: She has had no new sponsorship offers since the summer. So she may have to work after all, preferably as a coach. "But only with young gymnasts," says Oksana Chusovitina with a smile. "Because you have to exert a lot of pressure on older gymnasts, and I'm incapable of that."

However, what she'd like to do most is to continue competing, because even after all these years, the triple world champion has some dreams left. "On vault I'd like to try a handspring double front," she says. With a vault like that, she could find herself medaling again at the 2012 London Olympics.

(photo: Reuters)


  1. (TCO) she's scary looking.

  2. And you, Sir, appear to be slightly looks-obsessed. How about a comment on her handspring double front plan instead?

  3. OMG YES PLEASE CHUSO. if there is anyone worthy of continuing in produnova's footsteps its her. that would be AMAZING.

  4. A handspring double front! oooo....I really really want someone to compete that again! go Chuso!

  5. This girl is a legend. Plain & simple. Always will be wether she makes it back or not, obviously I alike with everyone else hopes she does but if not she is still a legend. Champion just doesn't cover it.

  6. (TCO)

    I love the double front plan. If you want a serious comment, I think she could give it a run for the money but am rather worried that at her age and bad tendons (has the other one gone yet?), she may find it difficult to do. I think that Shawn and Jana ought to give it a try as well (althought someone like Rick at Gymcoach would say it is too dangerous for the wimmin).

    Actually I think that all the gymnasts should do vaults from two families. It's bizarre that "all arounders" don't really do the same event that EFers do. Also, I argue, at least one must be a classical (no roundoff) style vault. I would love it if people like Hamm or Johnson had a chance to medal. And by forcing the issue, would actually improve vault as an event (having more people do it).

    2. I just have this devil inside me that starts flame wars. :-|

    Plus...I feel like her looks are the elephant in the room that no one talks about. I mean she looks like a caricature. Liked her looks more in that goofy gymnastics bloopers video (her and her coach dancing in the middle, although that was "interesting" too.) I donno...people are people...I don't hate them...but it's interesting to think about. (Kyle Shewfelt makes me wonder, too.)

    I actually like Jana in a sort of sorry for the ugly duckling way. And dislike Shayla for her cliqueshness and bad behaviour and because all the little fangirlz like her just for being a barbie. And I notice Prodonava's fierce and strange looks and very attractive figure. And Bogi is kind of a hawtie. Especially now. Oh and that grown up Lili-pod: she's gorgeous! She is, she is!

    Actually adult Nadia and Dominique are very pretty too. One has to ask, are they real or is that how all the Rom-girlz are? (STOP! BAD DEVIL!)

    Chelsie too. And A-Sac of course. And her mannerisms make her appealing as well. Reminds me of an almost-gf I had once who used same verbalisms.) Nastia and Korki do nothing for me although Korki is so striking, it's actually just fun to stare at her.

    I don't really notice the looks of the little girls, thank God (Johnson, Atler in competition, etc.) Although I guess they still have pretty faces and physiques in some artistic sense. Just as you can look at a male gymnast for a beautiful physique without being gay. But I notice their tricks a lot more.

    Ok, all the above sounds sort of looks obsessed. Maybe I could get The Couch Gymnast to stop rating leotards and start rating figures. Maybe?

    At least I haven't looked at Corina in the buff yet...

  7. (TCO)

    Oh...and I'm cool with super-technical posts as well. WWGym taught me all about Pak saltos for instance.

    Umm...in terms of vaulting, my favorites are Atler's rudi and Mary Lou's second Tsuk full. Those girls had DISTANCE. And they did it old school on the side horse. And not some stupid Yurchenko style.

  8. Glad to see some enthusiasm for Chuso and her handspring double front plan! We really hope she'll have a chance to perform it one day.

    TCO, thanks for that rather elaborate reply, although it was a little more information than we needed. As interesting as it was to read your perspective on these matters, we're going to refrain from commenting ourselves. We'd like to focus on gymnastics rather than looks, if you don't mind. :)

  9. Thank you so much for this uodate on Chussy.Any and all information on this true legend of gymnastics is appreciated.

  10. You're welcome, Anonymous. We hope to post two more interviews with her at some point...

  11. Chuso had a rupture of her achilles tendon. Not an ACL. But she will have a 3rd surgery (this time on her back) in the end of January. See also www.turnteam.de (unfortunately only in german)

  12. Wogl, you're right about the Achilles tendon. We'll change it.

    We posted the news on Chusovitina's back surgery two days ago:


  13. This blog is great! Thanks for gathering and posting such great info. One small suggestion of an idea though - Could you create a section that shows the dates and locations of upcoming events where we might see some of the gymnasts we admire? Thanks and keep up the great work!

  14. Thanks for the kind words, K! A list of upcoming events would be great, but we're not sure we can create it, as this is a Blogger blog and we're kind of dependent on the layout options Blogger provides, which are pretty limited. We'll study our options, but we have a feeling it may not be possible. Sorry. :(