German gymnast Oksana Chusovitina took fifth at the vault final on Sunday. Her vaults were good enough to be among the world's best, but not enough to beat out McKayla Maroney's soaring Amanar or Sandra Izbasa's clean execution.
But you should still be impressed with her feat, because Chusovitina is 37 years old, a mother, and a world-class athlete. She is 15 years older than gold-medalist Izbasa and a full 21 years older than Maroney, who took the silver.
She started her gymnastics career in the Soviet Union, and represented the country at the Goodwill Games in 1990. After the break-up of the USSR, she competed for the unified team in 1992, winning team gold. After Soviet athletes returned to their individual republics, she competed for Uzbekistan at the Atlanta, Sydney and Athens Olympics.
But in 2002, she moved to Germany so her son could get treatment for leukemia. Though it took several years, she became a German citizen and won silver on vault in Beijing. She competed in London to say thank you to Germany for saving her son's life.
How she is still vaulting so well after so many years of competition is particularly amazing when you consider all the impact that happens to the body in an elite vault. To complete a double-twisting Yurchenko, Chusovitina must sprint down the runway, do a roundoff onto the spring board, a back handspring onto the vault, then twist twice in the air while completing a flip. My knees, shoulders and ankles ache just thinking about it, and I'm four years her junior.
She is the fifth-best vaulter in the world, a title she attained at an age when most gymnasts are long retired.
Related Olympics coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
More Olympics coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Photos: Full moon makes sixth Olympic ring
• Olympic athlete romances
• Phelps was emotional, unintelligible in final postrace interview