DÜSSELDORF, Germany (AP) – Even if it takes another year, Nino Salukvadze will still aim for an Olympic record.
The Georgian shooter has participated in all the Olympic Games since 1988, where she won a gold medal for the Soviet Union. At the Tokyo Olympics – now postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic – she will set a women’s record of nine appearances.
She is happy to wait for him.
“We are restructuring my training and that is nothing terrible. The bottom line is health, “Salukvadze told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his home in the South Caucasus nation.
Salukvadze is one of a multitude of Olympic veterans who are taking another year in stride. There is also Lolo Jones, a 37-year-old American weightlifter, who hopes to return to the track in Tokyo, and Uzbek gymnast Oksana Chusovitina, who qualified for his eighth Olympic Games – breaking his own sports record.
Chusovitina considered retirement before, but chose to continue. This time around, the 1992 gold medalist said that Tokyo would be her last Olympics.
“It’s already good that they postponed. Everything will calm down and everything will be fine, and I think the Olympic Games will go as usual, “said Chusovitina, 44, who is training under limited conditions due to the virus epidemic. “I want to participate in Tokyo and retire.”
Chusovitina said Uzbek officials sent her home from a training center after the postponement of the Olympics, leaving her to experience unexpected downtime with her husband and dogs.
It’s a rare moment of calm in his long-term gymnastics career. Chusovitina has competed at the elite level since the 1980s, long before the birth of most other gymnasts today.
Salukvadze did not set a retirement date, but said that each Olympic cycle is more difficult than the last. Experience is a strength, however.
“The physical burden is one thing, but the psychological side plays a big role,” she said.
The delay caused by the epidemic could even give a boost to the hopes of Salukvadze, 51, to add to his career a count of a gold medal, a silver medal and a medal bronze. She underwent eye surgery in December and needs time to adapt to the change.
For now, she is in limited training and is training air pistol at home with her son Tsotne Machavariani, a gunman who participated in his first Olympic Games in 2016. They are isolated for 14 days after their return from ‘Azerbaijan neighbor and spend time with table tennis.
Salukvadze secured a qualifying spot in 2019 and the International Sports Shooting Federation told the AP on Wednesday that it will confirm the athletes already qualified despite the postponement. When the Tokyo Olympics take place – no new date has been chosen – Salukvadze will beat the other two Olympians eight times with whom she shares the record.
German-Italian canoeist Josefa Idem retired after the 2012 Olympic Games and Canadian rowing cox Lesley Thompson-Willie has become a coach since his last Olympic appearance in 2016.
The all-time record holder, male and female, is 73-year-old Canadian rider Ian Millar, who competed in 10 Olympic Games between 1972 and 2012. He retired last year.
Salukvadze’s long Olympic career arrived despite many difficulties.
In 1992, she competed shortly after the breakup of the Soviet Union and her home state, Georgia, plunged into conflict. It reached the Atlanta Games in 1996 despite the economic turmoil. During the 2008 Olympics, Georgia was at war with neighboring Russia, and Salukvadze brought a Russian competitor to the podium in a call for peace.
But memories of difficult times are also memories of hope.
“There was war. He was hungry. We lived without light or gas. In the 1990s, we lived worse than that with the coronavirus, ”said Salukvadze. “There was a lot of friendship and everyone was united.”