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Oksana Chusovitina down to last chance to qualify for 9th Olympics at age 48

Oksana Chusovitina is down to one last chance to qualify for a record-extending ninth Olympics in gymnastics at age 48.

Chusovitina was mathematically eliminated from qualifying through an international World Cup series on Thursday.

Her last opportunity is at May’s Asian Championships in her home nation of Uzbekistan. There, one Olympic spot is available to the top eligible gymnast in the all-around.

Gymnasts from the top nations of China, Japan and South Korea are ineligible for the Olympic spot given their teams have already qualified for the Games.

Chusovitina, who primarily competes on vault, was 18th in the all-around at the 2023 Asian Championships, and still outside the top 10 if taking out the gymnasts who can’t qualify for Paris at this year’s Asian Championships.

In Tokyo, Chusovitina became the oldest woman to compete in Olympic gymnastics, according to the OlyMADMen.

She said before those Games that they would be her last.

After her last routine in Tokyo, a vault in qualifying, she waved and blew kisses, made a heart shape with her hands and got back on top of the competition podium to acknowledge the small arena crowd. It looked like a goodbye.

Then in May 2022, Chusovitina announced that she would bid for the Paris Games.

She is one shy of the Olympic appearances record for a woman in any sport, held by Georgian shooter Nino Salukvadze, who competed in Tokyo at age 52. Salukvadze is likely to extend her record in Paris after earning her nation an Olympic quota spot last June.

Chusovitina began her career competing for the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. After the breakup, she later represented the Unified Team, Uzbekistan and Germany (where her son, Alisher, received leukemia treatment) before going back to Uzbekistan.

She owns two Olympic medals -- team gold from Barcelona 1992 and vault silver from Beijing 2008.

Chusovitina also has nine world championships medals on vault, the most recent in 2011, and was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2017.

She has been working to open a gymnastics school in Uzbekistan.