‘Now is the best time' Said by Oksana Chusovitina
On the evening of September 25th, at the Huanglong Sports Center Gymnasium in Hangzhou, a women's individual gymnastics qualification competition became particularly special because of one person.
48 year-old Uzbekistan gymnastics legend Chusovitina, also the oldest athlete in this Asian Games, appeared in the women's vault qualification.
Her story of competing relentlessly to earn money for her critically ill son's treatment has made the world familiar with "Gymnastics Mom" Chusovitina. After her son recovered, her deep love for gymnastics has kept her staying in this arena, year after year.
At 7:30 pm, Chusovitina's name was announced in the venue. She stepped onto the competition floor amidst the cheers from the crowd. Some audience members shouted in Chinese, "Go, Chusovitina!" The vault podium was close to the press box, allowing a clear view of the thick bandages wrapped around her left leg.
Chusovitina prepared herself diligently, appearing calm rather than nervous. After completing her waving gesture, the venue immediately fell silent, with everyone holding their breath, anticipating the performance of this "elderly" athlete.
With a run-up, takeoff, rotation, and landing, the moment Chusovitina's feet touched the mat, the entire venue erupted in thunderous applause.
Steadily landing, she ultimately received a score of 12.949.
Chusovitina smiled and waved heart signs to the audience around the stands, and in return, the venue filled with overwhelming applause and cheers.
What did she feel when she stepped onto the competition floor again? In the mixed zone after the competition, facing over a hundred journalists, she calmly answered in English, "Now is the best age."
Facing the camera, she once again made a heart sign. Learning that her Chinese fans gave her the nickname "Chu Mama," she expressed her fondness for this name.
When asked about "how she views the limits of gymnastics," she said, "There are no limits."
This answer is also hidden in her life journey. Chusovitina started practicing gymnastics at the age of 7 and at 17, she won the gold medal in the women's team event at the Barcelona Olympics, followed by two medals at consecutive Gymnastics World Championships.
In 2002, at the age of 27, Chusovitina won four medals at the Busan Asian Games. It was also in that year when her son, Alisher, was diagnosed with congenital leukemia.
It is true that Chusovitina nearly sold all of her assets to pay for her son's medical treatment, but it was still not enough to cover the expensive medical expenses. Chusovitina stated, "I had to return to the competition floor to earn money for Alisher. I had to do it for him."
Chusovitina's decision to continue competing in gymnastics despite her age and the physical challenges she faced was truly remarkable. Gymnastics is typically seen as a sport where youth has the advantage, and at the age of over 25, Chusovitina was considered past her prime.
Every time she pushed herself to perform new and difficult routines, it was a test of her body's resilience and physical endurance. However, driven by her love for her son and her determination to provide for his medical treatment, Chusovitina tapped into every ounce of energy she had. She couldn't afford to get sick, injured, take a break, or retire. Her son was her entire life, and as long as he was battling illness, she would continue to persevere.
This story of "I won't grow old until you are healed" touched the hearts of countless people. Chusovitina's dedication and sacrifice for her son's well-being serve as an inspiration to all, reminding us of the strength and unconditional love that a parent possesses.
After retiring and making comebacks three times, she appeared at the current Hangzhou Asian Games, marking her fifth participation in the Asian Games. Most of the athletes competing alongside her are from the "00s" generation. Chusovitina said that she still has one dream left to fulfill, which is to win an Olympic medal for her country, Uzbekistan.
If Chusovitina can step onto the Paris Olympic Games stage as she hopes, she will achieve the historic feat of participating in the Olympics for nine consecutive times.
Passion can withstand the test of time. We continue to look forward to this 48-year-old athlete, whether it's on the Asian Games stage or in the second half of her life, creating more legends!