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Vanessa Ferrari, after defying age in Tokyo, returns to gymnastics training

Vanessa Ferrari

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 02: Vanessa Ferrari of Italy competes in the Women’s Floor Exercise Final at the Gymnastics on day ten of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on August 02, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

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Italian Vanessa Ferrari, who in Tokyo became the second woman in her 30s to win an Olympic artistic gymnastics medal in the last 50 years, recently returned to training and wants to reach a fifth Olympics in 2024.

Ferrari, 32, at first returned to the gym in September from February 2022 Achilles surgery, but she soon slowed the return because her foot bothered her, a representative for the gymnast said in an email on Monday. She is ramping back up now.

The rep confirmed reported comments about the comeback from her longtime coach on a broadcast last week.

“She is now back in the gym and will gradually intensify the workloads on her feet,” the representative said, noting it was Ferrari’s fifth foot surgery. “Clearly there are many unknowns, age, foot problems, but Vanessa wants to try and reach her fifth Olympics.”

Ferrari took floor exercise silver in Tokyo behind American Jade Carey, becoming the second-oldest women’s artistic gymnastics medalist in the last 50 years after Uzbek Oksana Chusovitina, according to Chusovitina is the lone female gymnast to compete in more than five Olympics.

Ferrari’s first Olympic medal came 15 years after she won the world all-around title, and it was Italy’s first women’s artistic gymnastics medal since 1928. She has not competed since the Tokyo Games.

Ferrari has multiple nicknames, including “The Cannibal” and “The Lioness” for her competitive drive.

The Italian women’s team finished fourth in Tokyo with Ferrari and fifth at last year’s worlds without her (and without 2022 European all-around champion Asia D’Amato). Team event sizes went from four gymnasts back up to five after Tokyo.

Come the 2024 Paris Games, Ferrari will be older than any female Olympic medalist in any gymnastics discipline since the 1956 Melbourne Games, when Hungarian Ágnes Keleti won four golds and two silvers at 35.

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