Gymnastics phenom Oksana Chusovitina still out to prove her mother wrong - at 43 

Seven-time Olympian Chusovitina won the vault at the World Challenge Cup in Paris, with her Tokyo 2020 dream very much alive.

For 43-year-old Oksana Chusovitina the secret to vitality and longevity is easy: gymnastics - and her mother.

"I would like to thank my mother for my longevity in the sport because she's the one who didn't want me to do it", she was quoted by the Washington Post. "I wanted to prove her wrong. So, thank you, Mom."

Her career began when the Soviet Union was still the Soviet Union and Ronald Reagan was president of the United States.

At 13 she won the junior all-around title at the USSR National Championships, that was 1988.

These days her 18-year-old son Alisher is older than most of her opponents, by the time Rio 2016 all-around champ Simone Biles was born in 1997, Chusovitina had already won five world medals and an Olympic gold.

After seven consecutive Olympics, the Uzbek star was taking the final World Challenge Cup event on the calendar as a dress rehearsal for the World Championships in October.

And she had plenty of reasons to smile after she won the vault in Paris.

The world champs will take place in Doha from October 25 - November 3 2018 and will be the first Tokyo 2020 qualification event.

Three decades on top

The Uzbek-born gymnast reached the pinnacle of her sport at Barcelona 1992 where she won team gold with the post-Soviet 'Unified Team' at just 17 and then added an individual vault silver medal at Beijing 2008 representing Germany.

During the 2012 Olympics in London - her sixth if you've lost count - Chusovitina announced it would be her last, and she was retiring immediately following the competition.

But that didn't last very long, after a disappointing fifth-place finish on vault.

"At night, I told everyone I retired, and the next morning I woke up and changed my mind"

"That's literally what happened. I said I retired, and the next day I woke up, and I was lying down in my bed and thinking 'I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to accomplish and I still feel I can do a little bit more.' And that's why I started training for my next Olympics because I still feel I can do more."

Back representing her birth country Uzbekistan, Chusovitina spent four years preparing for Rio where she once again made history as the oldest gymnast to compete at an Olympics.

That and she also became the only gymnast ever to compete in seven consecutive Games.

'vault of death' gymnast hoping to break own record with eighth olympics

'vault of death' gymnast hoping to break own record with eighth olympics

Things haven't been going too badly this year either, three months before her 43th birthday, Chusovitina clinched two medals at the Individual Apparatus World Cup in Baku.

Then in August she stood second on the podium at the Asian Games, missing out on first place in the vault event by one tenth of a point.

“I definitely want to start in Tokyo. That is a dream of mine. I still have so much fun doing gymnastics” - Chusovitina after winning silver at the Asian Games.

Nothing to prove

"I feel like every year that I'm competing, I'm leaving a little part of myself behind. People will already remember me, and they'll remember me for a long time because of my longevity.

I think the longevity is the best thing I can leave behind.

"I already have my world medals, my Olympic medals and I really don't need to leave anything else except for my love for the sport."

Role model, inspiration, mother, Olympian, Chusovitina has given everything she has to the sport.

With nine vault world championship medals - another record - her promising performance in Paris serves as another milestone on her trail to Tokyo 2020 and an eighth consecutive Olympic Games.

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