The evolution of sport has seen athletes compete at ages far beyond normal, and the The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are a shining example of this development with the gymnast Uzbek Oksana Chusovitina in the center of the stage.
Chusovitina, at 46, is the oldest gymnast to compete in the Olympics - a sport that is normally dominated by teenage athletes. Tokyo will be his eighth Olympic participation and ultimately his last.
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" I feel good (physically ) but I feel bad "she said via a translator, via USA Today . "But in the end, I feel happy.
Chusovitina began her career in the late 1980s representing the Soviet Union. In 1992 she won her first gold medal with the Unified Team at Barcelona where she also placed seventh individually in the floor exercise.
In this file from Sunday August 7 2016 photo, Uzbekis Oksana Chusovitina of tan honors the audience after her routine on the beam during the women's artistic gymnastics qualification at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo / Rebecca Blackwell, file)
She would also represent Germany from 2006 to 2012 afters that her son was treated there for acute lymphoid leukemia. After the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Chusovitina started competing for Uzbekistan, although she initially announced that she would be retiring from gymnastics altogether.
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Now the veteran gymnast swears it really will be his last Games.
"My son is 22 and I want to spend time with him " said Chusovitina. "I want to be mother and wife.
But Chusovitina's situation is becoming more and more common, especially in gymnastics. The American gymnastics team includes several young people in their twenties, including Simone Biles, who is 24, and MyKayla Skinner, who is only a few months older than Biles.
Although the age gap is large, the ageUS team average of 20.8 years old is the oldest since 1952.
A broader look at the Games shows several athletes competing well above the normal age. American soccer striker Carli Lloyd is 39 years old on a team where the average age of 30.8 is the highest average age of any American team in Olympic history.
"I haven 't thought about it, but yes, of course, if anyone thinks that I am a motivation, they can extend their practice of sport ", said Chusovitina.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.