Champions Corner

How 34-year-old Aljona Savchenko won her first gold medal during her fifth Olympics

Gold medal winners Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Gold medal winners Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany

Most Olympians have one or two chances at gold, but Aljona Savchenko had five. This year, she made it count. During her fifth Olympics in Pyeongchang, the 34-year-old skater won her first gold medal.

"I never give up," she told the press. "All my life I've been fighting."

Pairs figure skater Savchenko was born in Ukraine in 1984 and competed in her first Olympic competition in 2002 at the Salt Lake City Games for her home country. Savchenko and her partner Stanislav Morozov came in 15th place.

In 2003, she moved to Germany and competed in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Olympic games for Germany with her partner Robin Szolkowy. After winning her second bronze at the 2014 games in Sochi, she thought her time was up.

Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot

But after finding a new partner in Bruno Massot, Savchenko made the trip to Pyeongchang determined to make her fifth Olympics her best ever.

After the first round of the pairs figure skating competition, Savchenko and Massot were in fourth place. As the Washington Post puts it, "her hopes for an Olympic gold medal should have been dashed."

Massot was demoralized. "It was hard for me yesterday, but Aljona was there for me. She said: 'It is not finished. We still have the free programme to come,'" he says. "I got the gold medal in my head. Yesterday I said I don't want [Savchenko] to come back with another bronze medal. She deserved this gold medal."

When the duo woke up for the second round of the Olympic competition, the free programme, they both were determined to make the impossible happen.

"I said to Bruno: 'We will write history today.' And then everything happened as I had imagined, and it came true," she says.

Savchenko and Massot aced their performance and received a score of 159.31 points. Their score was enough to surpass China's five-point lead, put themselves in first place and set a world record.

When they saw that they had won gold, both skaters broke into tears. Surrounded by their competitors, Savchenko rose to her feet and punched the air in celebration.

Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, who won bronze in the competition, congratulated the team.

The win marks the first gold medal in pairs figure skating for Germany since 1952 and ties Savchenko for the most medals ever awarded to a pairs skater.

"It is my moment," Savchenko told reporters. 'We celebrated New Year's together and we said, '2018 will be our year,' and it became our year.'

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook

Don't miss:

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics is the U.S. broadcast rights holder to all Summer and Winter Games through the year 2032.