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Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Mom and Daughter Who Each Competed Towards Oksana Chusovitina – An Outdated Faculty Gymnastics Weblog

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One matter I’m regularly requested concerning Oksana Chusovitina is whether or not she competed towards each a mom and a daughter from the identical household. Like so many gymnastics followers, I discover this a captivating matter. However regardless of how lengthy Chusovitina has been competing for and the a number of generations her profession spans, it has been extraordinarily troublesome discovering a documented instance of this taking place.

Up to now my response to this query has been a tough “no.” It hasn’t occurred. It is just too uncommon for each a mom and a daughter to each make it to high-level worldwide competitors, after which have each members of the family align with Chuosvitina’s timeline. There have been numerous “near-misses” the place it nearly occurred, however no direct instance of it truly occurring. That was till this week once I lastly discovered an instance the place Chusovitina did actually compete towards each a mom and daughter.

It was the efficiency of Sabrina Voinea who competed on the 2023 Doha World Cup and made her first ever look towards Chusovitina that reignited the controversy over a potential mom and daughter mixture who each competed towards Chusovitina. However Sabrina’s mom Camelia Voinea final competed in 1988, whereas Chusovitina didn’t begin competing internationally till 1989. The 2 gymnasts missed having their careers overlap by only a single 12 months.

Oksana Chusovitina (L) and Sabrina Voinea (R) on the 2023 Doha World Cup

An excellent nearer “near-miss” was 2012 Olympian Viktoria Komova whose mom Vera Kolesnikova additionally competed for the ultimate time in 1988. Each Kolesnikova and Chusovitina have been Soviet gymnasts, however Kolesnikova was a senior whereas Chusovitina was a junior. Even in Soviet home competitors, I couldn’t discover a competitors the place the 2 instantly competed towards one another due to the junior/senior divide. Despite the fact that each gymnasts have been competing for a similar program in the identical 12 months.

It was truly Mary Lou Retton’s daughter McKenna Kelley who’s chargeable for placing me on the best tracks. In February 2020 McKenna posted a Tweet the place she praised Oksana Chusovitina’s longevity and famous that each she and her mom competed towards Chusovitina. This led to McKenna getting mocked by followers as a result of her mom final competed in early 1985 and missed overlapping with Chusovitina by a whole Olympic quad. It was additionally famous that McKenna Kelley as an American gymnast by no means reached high-level worldwide competitors which might have allowed her to compete instantly towards Uzbekistan’s Chusovitina.

Whereas the Tweet was baffling gymnastics followers who couldn’t conceive a situation the place Oksana Chusovitina competed towards both McKenna Kelley or Mary Lou Retton, I felt the idea had some benefit to it. Whereas it’s completely comprehensible that McKenna Kelley was misremembering the finer particulars of her mom’s profession, I didn’t see how a gymnast might misremember the finer particulars of her personal profession. McKenna Kelley was adamant that she competed towards Chusovitina, and I believed her.

What gave me a lot religion in McKenna Kelley being proper was that Mary Lou Retton is famed for her Texas connections and elevating her household within the Lone Star State. It simply so occurs that the one place in America that Chusovitina is thought to frequent, is Texas. It is because Chusovitina’s teammate from the 1992 Olympics and longtime buddy Svetlana Boginskaya adopted Mary Lou Retton’s footsteps. Like Mary Lou Retton, Boginskaya moved to Texas in the midst of her gymnastics profession to coach underneath Bela Karolyi. Additional mimicking Retton, Boginskaya would ultimately undertake Texas as her dwelling, and has been primarily based in Houston, Texas ever since.

Via their longtime friendship, Svetlana Boginskaya has been identified to encourage Chusovitina to go to Texas on a semi-regular foundation to compete in some minor competitions, prepare, and host teaching clinics. Whereas McKenna Kelley and Oksana Chusovitina by no means met in a high-level worldwide competitors, it was apparent that someplace in Texas, these two gymnasts should have crossed paths in a regional competitors.

Due to her quite a few journeys to the USA over time, Oksana Chusovitina has 5 completely different profiles on My Meet Scores which tracks such competitions. Oksana Chusovitina is listed twice, as soon as every for Staff Uzbekistan and Staff Germany. Then there are three further profiles the place she was mistakenly listed underneath a misspelled identify. It wasn’t till I used to be trying by way of the outcomes of the fifth and closing profile that I lastly discovered a match.

The 1992 Soviet Olympic staff which compete underneath an Olympic flag. (From L to R): Svetlana Boginskaya, Elena Grudneva, Oksana Chusovitina, Tatiana Lysenko, Tatiana Gutsu, and Roza Gaileva.

McKenna Kelley and Oksana Chusovitina appeared within the outcomes of the identical competitors on the 2013 Houston Nationwide Invitational (HNI), a contest held in Boginskaya’s dwelling metropolis. Different gymnasts in attendance on the 2013 HNI have been Jessica Lopez, Madison Kocian, Ira Alexeeva, Flavia Saraiva and Alyssa Baumann. All of which might go on to compete at both the Olympics, World Championships, or each. One other participant was Emma Kelley, McKenna’s little sister.

I knew this wasn’t the reply in my objective of discovering a mom and daughter who each competed towards Oksana Chusovitina. However McKenna Kelley had offered a “proof of idea” that it was potential and a working template of what to search for. That the extra probably situation was not a mom and daughter mixture from the World Championships, however a regional competitors in the USA the place the overwhelming majority of the opponents have been American.

If there was an instance to be discovered, the very best place to look was deep within the throes of the My Meet Scores information.

Beforehand, it had been 1988 Olympian Brandy Johnson and 1992 Olympian Silvia Mitova who had lengthy been main candidates in my seek for a mom and daughter mixture who each competed towards Chusovitina. Brandy’s daughter Sydney Johnson-Scharpf had even been named to the American Nationwide Staff, however by no means reached the very best stage of the staff the place she would have been despatched to the Olympics or World Championships. I held out hope that possibly there was a decrease stage worldwide competitors the place Sydney and Oksana might have crossed paths, however there wasn’t one to be discovered.

I had comparable dangerous luck with Mitova’s daughter, Jessica Hutchinson. Each have been daughters of Olympians, however they’re primarily identified for being NCAA gymnasts. Not elite-level gymnasts the place they’d crossed paths with Chusovitina.

I hoped to retool my efforts utilizing Jessica and Sydney’s outcomes and check out once more utilizing the McKenna Kelley-template. This time specializing in the ends in the My Meet Scores information and hoping they crossed paths with Chusovitina in a small, regional competitors. However as soon as once more I had no luck. The Mitova-Hutchinson household was primarily based out of Pennsylvania whereas the Johnson-Scharpf household was primarily based out of Florida.

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They have been just too far-off from Texas to compete within the Lone Star State with sufficient frequency to ultimately cross paths with Chusovitina. If this was going to work, I wanted to discover a gymnast who’s the daughter of an Olympian, but additionally has geographical proximity to Texas. As soon as once more, I used to be at a useless finish.

That’s the place I used to be three years in the past.

Oksana Chusovitina competing on the Houston Nationwide Invitational

Up to now 12 months gymnastics followers have begun being attentive to a younger gymnast by the identify of Elizaveta Grebenkova. She was the most recent instance of a gymnast persevering with the legacy of her mom, who was as soon as a well-known Olympic gymnast. Her father is Georgy Grebenkov, a 2004 Olympian. Her mom is Ludmilla Ezhova, a 2004 and 2008 Olympian. Ludmilla gained a bronze medal on the 2004 Olympics. However what made Elizaveta Grebenkova important was that her household was primarily based out of Texas.

I assumed it was an excellent story of a younger, aspiring, gymnast whose identify I ought to hold a watch out for sooner or later, however I by no means made the connection that this was related to my search from three years in the past for a mom and daughter mixture who each competed towards Chusovitina.

It wasn’t till Sabrina Voinea competed on the Doha World Cup and I as soon as once more noticed social media posts from followers asking about whether or not Chusovitina competed towards Sabrina’s mom, that I all of a sudden remembered Elizaveta Grebenkova. Solely this time, I used to be now being attentive to the vital element. Her mom is an Olympian and she or he is from Texas.

(From L to R): Ludmilla Ezhova, Ksenia Afanasyeva, Ksenia Semyonova, Anna Pavlova, and Oksana Chusovitina.

Certain sufficient, Elizaveta Grebenkova and Oksana Chusovitina each competed on the 2020 Houston Nationwide Invitational. The identical competitors that McKenna Kelley crossed paths with Chusovitina seven years earlier. The competitors situated in Svetlana Boginskaya’s hometown.

I had lastly discovered a documented instance of Oksana Chusovitina competing towards a mom and daughter however there are quite a few asterisks that have to be identified.

For starters, the Houston Nationwide Invitational is a large competitors. In 2020 it featured  1,434 opponents when solely counting the ladies’s facet of the game. This one competitors had extra opponents than the overall variety of Olympians in girls’s gymnastics from 1896 to 2012 (which is 1,428 gymnasts). With a contest this huge, it feels prefer it goes towards the premise of the unique query. You don’t actually “face your opponent” underneath these circumstances. With 1000+ opponents it may well’t be stated a gymnast interacts with all of her opponents, or perhaps a small fraction of them. Neither is the occasion even a single competitors. However relatively, a lot of the gymnasts are divided into completely different classes and age teams with awards given primarily based on the winner of every respective group.

Oksana Chusovitina competing on the Houston Nationwide Invitational

Elizaveta Grebenkova completed 377th within the standings. Oksana Chusovitina who solely competed on vault, completed at #1,419 within the All-Round standings. Chusovitina was solely 15 spots away from final place. One other main asterisk is that Elizaveta Grebenkova was solely a Degree-9 when she appeared on this competitors. Many gymnastics followers would discover it absurd to hyperlink a Degree-9 consequence on to an elite stage gymnast like Oksana Chusovitina.

However no matter these objections, when McKenna Kelley crossed paths with Chusovitina at this exact same competitors in 2013, the scale of the competitors or the very fact she hadn’t but certified elite didn’t matter. McKenna remembered Chusovitina was there and was capable of respect it regardless. Going so far as to notice the connection seven years later as her profession was winding down.

It also needs to be famous that the connection between Elizaveta Grebenkova and Oksana Chusovitina goes past an opportunity encounter on the 2020 HNI. For gymnasts like Oksana Chusovitina, Ludmilla Ezhova, and Svetlana Boginskaya, everyone seems to be associates with one another and their households are additionally effectively acquainted with one another. On social media there’s even an image of Elizaveta Grebenkova again when she was a kindergartner posing with Svetlana Boginskaya and Oksana Chusovitina that was taken lengthy earlier than the 2020 HNI.


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