THE face of global gymnastics has been dramatically transformed over the past two decades. Never is that better illustrated than by the calibre of athletes currently beating a path on the comeback trail.

They include reigning double Olympic champion Gabby Douglas of the USA – who made history as the first African American woman to win the individual all-around competition – and Romania's Catalina Ponor, a triple gold medallist in Athens in 2004.

While some would be content to walk away from such glittering achievement while still at their peak, for Ponor it marks a second return from retirement – her first coming in 2011 – with the 28-year-old admitting she potentially risks "the biggest failure in my career".

In recent days, Ponor announced she has withdrawn from the Romanian team that will compete at the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow this month due to injury. She is still aiming for the Olympic Games in Rio next summer.

For Douglas, meanwhile, things have markedly changed. Her absence from the sport has coincided with the rise of the current darling of US gymnastics, Simone Biles, who will go for her third consecutive all-around title in Glasgow.

But, as some return, others have long ploughed a lone furrow to achieve success against the odds. In the coming days, as the final team line-ups for are confirmed, there is one name it would be wonderful to see on that start-list: Oksana Chusovitina.

The 40-year-old gymnast was named on the nominative list by her native Uzbekistan last month. To see her step-out to compete at the SSE Hydro would be another remarkable milestone in an international gymnastics career which has spanned more than a quarter of a century.

Chusovitina's is a captivating tale. She made her world championships debut in 1991 – helping the USSR to team gold and claiming individual glory on floor. A year later, after the former Soviet Union dissolved, she was part of the Unified Team that took Olympic gold in Barcelona.

While many of her team-mates retired soon afterwards – notably Olympic all-around champion Tatiana Gutsu – Chusovitina bucked the trend at a time when few women continued to compete in top flight gymnastics beyond their mid-teens.

In 1999, she and her husband Olympic wrestler Bakhodir Kurbanov had a son Alisher. Afterwards Chusovitina returned to training, but in 2002 Alisher was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukaemia.

The family had no health insurance. Nor did Uzbekistan have any specialist oncology facilities. The international gymnastics community rallied round – spearheaded by Shanna and Peter Bruggemann, head coaches of the Toyota Cologne club in Germany – and a fundraising campaign was launched.

This, coupled with prize money from competitions, helped Chusovitina secure medical assistance for Alisher at the University of Cologne's hospital. While her son underwent treatment, she trained with the German team.

At the 2002 World Championships in Debrecen, Hungary, Chusovitina took bronze on vault. "If I don't compete, then my son won't live, it's as simple as that," she said at the time. "My son underwent an operation today and the only reason he managed to get that treatment is because I am earning money. I have no choice."

Alisher has since made a full recovery from his cancer. Turning 16 this year, he is closer in age to many of his mother's competitors than Chusovitina is herself.

In 2003, 12 years after her first victory, Chusovitina became a world champion again – this time on vault – representing Uzbekistan. That same year it was announced that she would compete for her adoptive Germany. Due to residency rules, however, three years would pass until she could wear a German leotard on the global stage.

Her first competition for Germany was at the 2006 World Championships, where Chusovitina claimed bronze on vault. She went on to win a clutch of other international medals at world and European level – taking silver at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing at the age of 33.

There was rumblings that her campaign for the 2009 World Championships in London would be her swan song with Chusovitina herself stating that it was "enough".

But the following year, she was back competing in some low key events before going on to win a trio of silver medals on vault at the 2011 European Championships, the 2011 World Championships and the 2012 European Championships.

London 2012 marked her sixth Olympics Games. Again, retirement was mooted but Chusovitina has since stated her intention to continue to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with the hope of representing Uzbekistan, who she began competing for again in 2013.

Chusovitina has five eponymous gymnastics skills named after her – two on vault, two on asymmetric bars and one on floor. Yet, her legacy is significantly more far-reaching than that.

In gymnastics terms, Chusovitina straddles the gulf between the old guard had the new. She came through the rigid regime of the former Eastern bloc to embrace a modern era which has seen a host of new nations flourish in this demanding and enthralling sport.

Equally, she flies in the face of the enduring tedious misconception among some quarters that gymnastics is a pursuit solely practised by pre-pubescent girls with cutesy ribbons in their hair.

Chusovitina continues to be a role model and inspiration, not only to those in gymnastics but for the rest of us mere mortals who, at times, struggle just to throw a leg out of bed in the morning.

"When you are on the podium, nobody's asking whether you are 15 or 30," she once said. "What matters is who can do great gymnastics."

To see her succeed in making it to a seventh Olympics would be the proverbial fairy-tale ending.