China News Service, Astana, February 25th: What is "legend" and why is "Qiu Ma"?

  ——Exclusive interview with Uzbekistan’s famous gymnast Chusovitina

  China News Service reporter Zhang Shuo

  If we were to list the foreign athletes that the Chinese people love, it would be difficult to exclude Uzbek gymnast Chusovitina.

  The 49-year-old Chusovitina is known as the "gymnastics legend."

She started practicing gymnastics at the age of 7, competed in the Olympics eight times, retired and came back three times, and also changed her nationality to treat her son's illness, showing that she is a strong mother.

In her long sports career, Chusovitina's persistence and struggle are as shining as the honors she has won. Her experiences and stories have also made her a sports phenomenon.

Despite this, Chusovitina is still preparing for this year's Paris Olympics. If all goes well, she will participate in the Olympics for the ninth time and continue her legend.

  Chusovitina has a close relationship with China. She has been to China many times and many important moments in her life also occurred in China.

Her most recent "highlight moment" in the Chinese arena was the applause and cheers she received when she participated in the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games.

Regarding the nickname "Qiu Ma" given to her by the Chinese people, Chusovitina said that China is her blessed land, and "Qiu Ma" supports her to keep moving forward.

  Recently, Chusovitina accepted an exclusive interview with China News Service's "East-West Question" to tell her attitude towards gymnastics and time, as well as her story with China.

Gymnastics is life

  In February this year, Chusovitina ushered in the main schedule of the Paris Olympics qualifying tournament. The next two or three months will also be the key to determining whether she can qualify for the Paris Olympics.

As the only gymnast in the world to compete in eight consecutive Olympic Games, Chusovitina is expected to break her own Guinness World Record.

  "It is my dream to participate in the Olympics. To do this, I have to train myself very hard." Chusovitina told reporters before the start of the game.

  Before the interview began, Chusovitina had just finished training for the day - completing full-body weight-bearing training under the guidance of the coach.

Although she is nearly 50 years old, her body muscle lines are still obvious and her movements are still flexible and light.

  During the training break, Chusovitina did not forget to interact with netizens: "The action is completed well, how would you give me a score?"

  Netizens praised her unyielding character, her love for gymnastics, her attitude toward life, and her uncompromising attitude toward life, calling her an "insurmountable spiritual mountain."

Faced with such comments, Chusovitina smiled heartily and told reporters: "I like what I am doing, it brings me happiness."

  Faced with the label of "the oldest active athlete in the gymnastics world", Chusovitina said: "I still have fighting spirit. Gymnastics is my life and the motivation that supports me. I enjoy it very much and am full of positive energy every day, which makes me happy." I have become stronger." Faced with possible success or failure, Chusovitina said, "It's not that important." At this age, it is more about enjoying the pleasure of the sport itself.

Chusovitina at the Hangzhou Asian Games.

Photo by Anyuan

time is friend

  Time goes back to September 28, 2023, in the women's vault final of the Hangzhou Asian Games. The audience held their breath and waited for Chusovitina's final jump.

  Chusovitina, who had her short hair pulled into a bun, walked toward the starting point, running, jumping, flying, and spinning. When she landed firmly, applause and cheers echoed in the venue for a long time.

Although she failed to win a medal in the end, this did not affect her becoming the most dazzling star in the field that night.

On September 28, 2023, Chusovitina competed in the women's vault final of competitive gymnastics at the Hangzhou Asian Games.

Photo by Tomita

  Ever since Chusovitina came into contact with gymnastics, she has done such high-intensity movements countless times.

  In 1975, Chusovitina was born in an ordinary family in the Soviet Union.

She is the youngest child in the family, she is full of energy, likes to jump and is very naughty.

In order not to be left alone at home, she began to accompany her brother to the gym to practice gymnastics.

That year, Chusovitina was 7 years old, which was the beginning of her love for gymnastics.

Chusovitina in fashionable dress.

Photo provided by interviewee

  "It all happened naturally and by chance." Talking about her lifelong love of gymnastics, Chusovitina said that everything seemed to be destined.

"When I see everyone in the gym working hard to do a move well, I want to try it too."

  The gears of fate began to turn.

From making her debut on the international stage in 1991 at the age of 16, to competing in the Olympics for the first time in 1992 and winning the women's team gold medal in gymnastics; from representing Uzbekistan in three Olympic Games in Atlanta, Sydney, and Athens, to representing Germany in the Beijing and London Olympics; from returning to Uzbekistan nationality, to respond to the call of the national team to compete in Rio de Janeiro and the Tokyo Olympics again; to announce her retirement for the third time at the age of 46, to choose to come back to participate in the Hangzhou Asian Games, and then strive to qualify for the Paris Olympics... Chusovitina's career is brilliant. Ups and downs again.

On August 14, 2016, Chusovitina finished seventh in the women's vault final of the Rio Olympics gymnastics individual event.

Photo by Sheng Jiapeng

  Chusovitina was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for competing in eight consecutive Olympic Games.

In 2017, she became the only active athlete inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

In the competition rules of the International Gymnastics Federation, two vault movements, two uneven bar movements, and one floor exercise movement are all named after her.

  In his past experience, he retired three times and came back three times and attracted attention.

Regarding retirement, Chusovitina said: "There is no hesitation and no difficulty. It's time to end, and I will leave sports with a calm mood." Regarding comeback, she used her third comeback as an example: "Tokyo Olympics I have too many regrets and I cannot end my gymnastics career like this."

  "The Hangzhou Asian Games is the motivation for me to choose to come back." Chusovitina told reporters: "Time has never been my enemy, but my friend. My only opponent is myself. I fight for myself. I will also defeat myself.”

On September 28, 2023, Chusovitina won the fourth place in the women's vault of competitive gymnastics at the Hangzhou Asian Games.

Photo by Tomita

China is a blessed land

  "The Hangzhou Asian Games gave me a particularly unforgettable experience. I look forward to visiting China more in the future." Chusovitina has many good memories of China. "I didn't expect to be recognized on the streets of China and the other party called me ' Qiu Ma'."

  "I'm very surprised that the love of Chinese fans will form a force and encourage me to overcome difficulties." She said happily.

  In fact, many Chinese people like Chusovitina not only because of their admiration for the veteran's struggle, but also because they are moved by her power of "being a strong mother".

  In 2002, Chusovitina's 3-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia.

In order to raise money for her son's medical treatment and create better medical conditions, Chusovitina continued to participate in competitions and even once transferred to Germany, which caused quite a controversy.

But her words "I don't dare to grow old until you are cured" moved countless people.

A group photo of Chusovitina and her family.

Photo provided by interviewee

  After the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chusovitina, who was in China, received news of her son's recovery.

"Helping him overcome the disease is the biggest victory in my life." Chusovitina said, "Listen to your heart, never give up, and don't be afraid of making mistakes. You have to try to do something so that you won't regret it in life."

  "China is my blessed land, and I would like to go to China again." Chusovitina told reporters that Chinese food is delicious, Chinese traditional architectural structures are exquisite, and Chinese culture needs a deeper understanding and experience.

  Chusovitina has been to the Great Wall and likes kung fu performances, and is especially interested in traditional Chinese etiquette culture.

Photos of her wearing a Chinese horse-faced dress and holding a silk fan have sparked heated comments on social media.

Chusovitina's makeup in a traditional Chinese dress with a horse face skirt sparked heated discussions among netizens.

Photo provided by interviewee

  This year’s Chinese New Year, Chusovitina also sent New Year’s greetings in Chinese: “I wish my Chinese friends good luck in the Year of the Dragon and good luck in getting rich!” Talking about her New Year’s wishes, she said she hoped that the Chusovitina Gymnastics Academy would be put into operation as soon as possible.

"This is the first sports academy in Uzbekistan named after an athlete and will open its doors to children with talent in gymnastics."

  "In the future, I would also like to invite Chinese gymnastics experts to come to the academy for guidance. China is a strong country in gymnastics, and we will learn from our Chinese counterparts' experience." The legendary "Qiu Mama" is looking forward to it.


Interviewee profile:

Oksana Chusovitina.

Photo provided by interviewee

   Oksana Chusovitina, born in 1975 in Bukhara, Soviet Union (now the capital of Bukhara Oblast, Uzbekistan), is a female gymnast from Uzbekistan.

In 1991, Chusovitina won the women's team and floor exercise gold medals and vault silver medals at the World Championships.

Since participating in the Barcelona Olympics for the first time in 1992 and winning the women's team gold medal, Chusovitina has competed in eight consecutive Olympic Games and was included in the Guinness World Records.

In 2017, she became the only active athlete inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

In the competition rules of the International Gymnastics Federation, two vaults, two uneven bars, and one floor exercise are named after her.