Gymnast Oksana Chusovitina, 46, Gets Standing Ovation in Tokyo After Eighth, and Final, Olympics

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Uzbekistan's Oksana Chusovitina reacts after competing in the artistic gymnastics vault
Uzbekistan's Oksana Chusovitina reacts after competing in the artistic gymnastics vault

LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images

Oksana Chusovitina was filled with emotions after her record-extending eighth Olympics.

The 46-year-old gymnast's time in Tokyo came to an end after Sunday's qualifying round and afterwards she was met with overwhelming support from gymnasts around the world.

Chusovitina, a gymnast from Uzbekistan, performed two vaults in hopes of making the top eight and qualifying for the event final. However, her average score of 14.166 wasn't high enough to advance, ending her Olympic run.

Following her final vault, Chusovitina received a standing ovation from those in the stadium, bringing tears to her eyes as she waved to the small crowd and held up a heart with her hands.

"It was really nice," she told reporters afterwards. "I cried tears of happiness because so many people have supported me for a long time."

"I didn't look at the results, but I feel very proud and happy," she added. "I'm saying goodbye to sports. It's kind of mixed feelings."

Uzbekistan's Oksana Chusovitina competes in the artistic gymnastics vault event
Uzbekistan's Oksana Chusovitina competes in the artistic gymnastics vault event

LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images

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Throughout her career, Chusovitina has won 11 world medals and has five eponymous skills, leading her to being inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2017. Exceeding expectations in a sport known for its youth and typical teenage athletes, Chusovitina now plans to step away from competition.

"I feel very good to be here. But this will for sure be my last Olympics," she told reporters. "I'm 46 years old. Nothing is going to change it."

"I'm alive, I'm happy, I'm here without any injuries, and I can stand on my own," she added with a laugh.

Born in Koln, Germany, Chusovitina first competed in the Olympics as part of the Unified Team in 1992 — before most of the gymnasts competing in Tokyo were born. At the 1992 Games, she took home the gold for the all-around team category and went on to compete in every Olympic Games since, representing the Soviet Union, Germany, and Uzbekistan over the years.

"When I started gymnastics, I never thought about the Olympics. I just started with the sport and loved to do gymnastics," she told reporters on Sunday. "I'm very proud of what I have achieved, to be in the sport, and want to thank everyone involved in it."

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AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

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On Friday, members of the Team USA women's gymnastics squad — Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, MyKayla Skinner, and Jade Careyposed in a photo with Chusovitina while training before qualifiers, praising the gymnast on her lengthy and inspiring career.

"The 🇺🇸 women were lucky enough to get a photo during training with Oksana Chusovitina (@oksana2016), as she prepares to compete in her record-extending 8th Olympic Games! As she says, 'I only got better, like fine wine.' Congratulations on a remarkable career! 🙌" read the post from the USA Gymnastics official Instagram account.

The women were lucky enough to get a photo during training with Oksana Chusovitina
The women were lucky enough to get a photo during training with Oksana Chusovitina

USA Gymnastics Instagram

Throughout the competition, gymnasts from several countries also took photos with the icon, but Chusovitina has said that she actually never thinks about whether or not she inspires other gymnasts to continue with the sport.

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"But if someone sees it as a motivation to prolong their career, that means a lot," she said.

To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.

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