My Favorite Person at the Summer Olympics

Oksana Chusovitina 100

She just may be my very favorite person at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio. Forget the male gymnasts, the Speedo-clad divers, and the gingers, this is Oksana Chusovitina, who was born two months before me (which means she is 41 years old). Ms. Chusovitina has been competing for so long that she once represented the Soviet Union. This is her seventh time at the Olympics.


Once every four years, multiplied by seven.

It’s impressively mind-boggling, and the fact that she still bounds through the air like she’s just beginning is a glorious testament to her dedication and perseverance, as well as her simple love of her sport.  This year she is representing Uzbekistan, and the first time I saw her compete, I cringed a little at her outfit.

Then I saw her expression.

Her determination.

Her hunger.

Her spirit.

And her smile upon completing each of her events.

She won me over. I thought about her storied career, and looked up her accomplishments. She never had the best costumes, or the most fabulous hair, or the glamorous poise of some other gymnasts, but she had something else: the unfailing love of doing what she does, and doing it in the best way that she can could do it – over an incredibly long span, unheard of in gymnastics, and most other sports.

That quiet, unassuming grit and greatness is the stuff of the truest champions.

The best part of these Olympics goes beyond the bulge, and this powerhouse of a woman from Uzbekistan reminded me of that.

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