© John Cheng

HOUSTON, Texas – 2008 Olympic team bronze-medalist Raj Bhavsar recently announced his retirement from competitive men’s gymnastics. The Houston native achieved his dream of representing the United States at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, and helped the American team win the team bronze medal. In addition, Bhavsar won two World Championships silver medals and claimed the 2002 NCAA all-around title. He was also an alternate for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

“The picture is complete, and it feels good to close this chapter of my life on a positive note,” said Bhavsar, who has been involved in the sport for more than 25 years. “I have accomplished everything I set out to do and then some. It’s never an easy decision for an athlete to leave the sport they love, but I feel confident knowing I have given my best every step of the way. I will always love the world of competitive gymnastics, and the discipline I developed while training will always play a significant role in my life.”

Since the Beijing Olympics, Bhavsar has remained active in the sport. He competed in the 2009 Moscow World Cup, where he debuted a new skill on the parallel bars. The Bhavsar is the second original skill that bears his name in the current FIG Code of Points.

Bhavsar is switching to the world of the Cirque du Soleil. Bhavsar, who will join the renowned troupe in Montreal in November, will be involved with one of Cirque du Soleil’s new shows currently in development. Not only will he be a performer in the new production, but Bhavsar also will be a part in the creative process. The show is set to premiere in Los Angeles in 2011.

“I consider myself very fortunate,” said Bhavsar. “Gymnastics is one of the few sports where our talents can be showcased in another medium, so I’m glad that I am fortunate enough to further develop my abilities with a world-renowned company like Cirque. This is chance to learn a new craft in addition to the one I already have. I am sure the creative process will be a challenge, but it will be a great experience to learn from the masters of production.”

For Bhavsar, it is certainly true that the closing of one chapter is the beginning of the next, and one that is sure to prove as engaging and fulfilling as the last .