This year’s Olympics are getting a taste of wisdom. Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina is on the road to Rio de Janeiro for her seventh consecutive Olympic appearance, at the age of 41.
Chusovitina is on the road to Rio with her coach Svetlana Boguinskaia; some may remember her as “The Russian Swan.”
Boguinskaia has quite the resume, too, holding hardware as a three-time Olympic gold medalist, seven-time world champion and nine-time European champion.
When Boguinskaia isn’t coaching the oldest Olympic female gymnast in history, she spends time within The Leader neighborhood at Discover Gymnastics on the board for the gym’s charity – Discover Fitness Foundation – and holding a summer camp for the gym’s elite athletes.
“Svetlana and I have been working together for almost 10 years,” Carly Markesich, Discover Gymnastics’ owner said. “When Oksana is in the U.S., when she’s in Houston, they train here.”
The two Olympians are the spokespersons for Discover Fitness Foundation, a charity that raises funding to help pay partial, or all, for about 200 kids in 10 different gyms all over the state.
It’s a worthy cause that Chusovitina can personally relate to.
Married to Uzbekistan’s Olympic wrestler Bakhodir Kuranov, the two birthed a son in 1999 – Alisher.
“In 2002, Alisher was diagnosed with leukemia,” according to a story in The Associated Press. “Unable to get treatment for her son or to pay for it, Chusovitina came to Germany at the invitation of a club in Cologne. A fundraising campaign and money she earned in competitions paid for Alisher’s treatment, and he is fully recovered.”
This go-round, Chusovitina is back in action for her native country and competing all-around on Sunday, August 7. Chusovitina and her coach have high hopes for placing in vault, in which she won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.
“I am feeling good,” Chusovitina told The Associated Press. “On the podium, everyone is the same whether you are 40 or 16. You have to go out and do your routine and your jumps. But it’s a pity there are no points for age,” she added, breaking into a smile.
As Chusovitina’s coach, Discover Gymnastics’ Markesich says she’s watched Boguinskaia shine in adapting and modifying her approach with her seasoned Olympian.
“The two are friends, and as friends she can relate to her on a different level,” Markesich said. “She knows her really well. She knows what motivates her and what she can handle. Most importantly, she knows how to keep her safe and accommodate her needs.”
Going to the Olympics has always been a dream for Markesich.
When deciding who would accompany her on the trip, there was only one person – Discover Gymnastics’ coach Francisco Acuna, who has been with the gym for 17 years.
“I still can’t believe I’m going,” Acuna said. “I really believe we have a lot of talent here at our gym and I think it is going to be a great experience for me as a coach. I’ll be watching gymnastics and, also, diving.”
On the radar
Accompanying Chusovitina on the roster, is 25-year-old Catalina Escovar, a member of the Columbian National team, who lived in Houston and trained at Discover until she qualified for the Olympics. Markesich said that Escobar would probably be retiring after the Olympics, but would likely be back as a coach.
The Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics will air on Friday, Aug. 5, on NBC. Competition begins two days earlier on Wednesday, Aug. 3, with women’s soccer on NBCSN and USA Network, and the Games conclude on Sunday, Aug. 21, with the Closing Ceremony on NBC. Rio de Janeiro is one hour ahead of the Eastern Time zone.