Federation Friday: Romania

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Federation Friday: Romania

May 20, 2016

The Romanian Gymnastics Federation proudly takes us on a trip through their excellent gymnastics history and tradition


The Romanian Gymnastics Federation celebrates the commemorative events that marked not only Romanian gymnastics, but also the gymnastics development at continental and international level. Most important, in chronological order: 40 years from the fabulous "Perfect Ten" of Nadia Comăneci at the Olympic Games in Montreal (July 18, 1976); 110 years of the establishment of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation (September 14, 1906); 60 years from first Olympic medal (Melbourne, November 2 – December 8, 1956, bronze women team) and, in 2017, we will celebrate 60 years since the first women's European Championship (May 26-28, 1957 – Bucharest) and will run with the number 70 edition of the National Championships, with the first in 1947. Meanwhile, Romanian gymnastics was dubbed "factory of medals..." of Romanian sport for the large number of medals won at major international competitions.



               … first mention of the practicing gymnastics, existence of institutions and events dating from Sec. VII - VI BC

               ... first beginning of Romanian gymnastics schools was in 1776

               ... first Federal Gymnastics Festival (Bucharest, 1908)

               ... first member of board of international gymnastics organization: army general Petre V. Năsturel (1910 - former European Gymnastics Federation)

               ... first participation at the World Championships: Torino, May 11-14, 1911

               ...first gold medal at the World Championships – Teams (WAG, 1979), individual AA - Aurelia Dobre (1987), apparatus - Nadia Comaneci (1978 BB) and Dan Grecu (1974 SR)

               …first medal at the World Championships – Dan Grecu (1974, SR)

               ... first participation at the Olympic Games: Berlin, August 1-16, 1936

               ... first gold medal at the Olympics - Nadia Comaneci (Montreal, 1976)

               …first medal at the Olympics – Team (WAG, bronze, Melbourne, November 2 – December 8, 1956)

               …first gold medal at Youth Olympic Games – Andrei Muntean (Singapore, 2010, SR)

               …first participation at European Championships: Bucharest, May 26-28, 1957 (women)

               ... first gold medal at the European Championships - WAG: Nadia Comaneci (1975 - AA, VT); MAG: Dan Grecu (1975 SR)

               ... first medals at the European Championships: WAG: Elena Leustean (1957 - AA silver, UB, FX), Sonia Iovan (1957 - BB silver, bronze AA, VT); MAG - Dan Grecu (1973 - silver SR)

               ... first edition of National Championships: Resita, May 17-18, 1947



The Montreal Games, in full justice, are called Nadia Comaneci’s Olympics. We believe without any shadow of doubt that Nadia is the only sports person of Romania that has made so much ink to flow. Tons upon tons! Newspaper articles, books, films and photos were made about her that can fill a library. At the age of 14, Nadia Comăneci became one of the stars of the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. During the team compulsory part of the competition on July 18, her routine on the uneven bars was awarded with a “perfect ten”. It was the first time in modern Olympic women gymnastics history that the score had ever been awarded. ”At Montreal received four of her seven 10s on the uneven bars ... But it is on the beam that her work seems more representative of her unbelievable skill. She scored three of her seven 10s on the beam. Her hands speak there as much as her body. Her pace magnifies her balance. Her command and distance hush the crowd…” (Sports Illustrated, 1976).

               "When you enjoy success and a huge responsibility to the community. First, it's important not to forget "to hand over" a way to help others and give them the opportunity to give themselves a society ... " says Nadia Comaneci now.

The list of gymnasts from Romania who received 10.0 at major competitions is much larger and includes well-known names: Lavinia Agache, Cristina Bontaș, Aurelia Dobre, Emilia Eberle, Gina Gogean, Eugenia Golea, Mirela Pașca, Simona Păuca, Melita Rühn, Daniela Silivaș, Ecaterina Szabo, Camelia Voinea, and also Lavinia Miloșovici, one of Romania's top gymnasts of the 1990s, and one of the most prolific female all-around gymnasts of the decade, earning a total 19 World Championships or Olympic medals in a span of six years. Lavinia Miloșovici medalled in every single World Championships, Olympic Games and European Championships between 1991 and 1996, and is only the third female gymnast ever, after Larisa Latynina and Věra Čáslavská, to win at least one World Championships or Olympic title on all four events.  Lavinia Miloșovici was also the last gymnast along with Lu Li to ever receive the perfect mark of 10.0 in an Olympic competition, and the last to receive the benchmark score of 9.95 at the World Championships.



Cătălina Ponor (born 20 August 1987) was one of the biggest stars of the 2004 Olympics, winning three gold medals. The only other athletes who have become three times champions in the same Olympic Games are legends like Ecaterina Szabo, Nadia Comaneci, Olga Korbut, Vera Caslavska and Larisa Latinyna. After the Games, Catalina continued competing and winning international medals at World and European Championships. She announced her retirement in 2007, before having the chance to compete for a spot in her second Olympic Games due to injuries… But she continued to improve and upgrade her routines and, at the age of 25 (!), she was capable of more difficult routines and came back! She was a key player to Romania’s gold medal at the 2012 European Championships and of course to their bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics while she also managed to earn multiple individual medals at international competitions. With one more European title and two more Olympic medals for her collection, Catalina Ponor retired for the second time after the 2012 Olympics… And again the game continues! Gymnastics is a sport that you are considered too old at the age of 20 and Catalina Ponor will be almost 30 years old she “came back in game” and run to obtain the place for next Olympics Games, third one for her, but the road to Rio is very difficult… First stop in Bern!


Marian Drăgulescu (born December 18, 1980 in Bucharest) holds an impressive number of 26 medals at Olympic Games, World or European Championships among which eight gold medals at World Championships. He excelled in vault and floor on which he was a multiple world champion and Olympic medalist. Marian Drăgulescu announced his retirement mid-2005, but has since returned and in the World Championships in Melbourne (2005) he won the vault title. Disappointed when he failed to medal at the Beijing Olympics, he announced his retirement and his intention to become a gymnastic coach. However, he reconsidered retirement and went to compete in Germany for Fabian Hambuchen’s club, KTV Straubenhardt. After competing in the German league, Marian Dragulescu formally announced his retirement. He went to coach gymnastics alongside his former team colleagues Marius Urzică and Dan Potra at Dinamo Club Bucharest. However, in 2009 he once again reconsidered his retirement from artistic gymnastics. He had a very successful comeback winning the floor and the vault titles at the 2009 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. After skipping the 2011 spring competition season Marian Drăgulescu once again made a comeback at the Romanian National Championships at the end of August. This competition marked his comeback as an all around gymnast after a break of more than seven years! After new “stop”, on November 1, 2015, he participated in the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships held in Glasgow, Scotland, and won Silver in vault and direct qualification for Olympics Rio 2016! You know, his name will remain in the history of gymnastics not only because of his world titles on floor (2001, 2002, 2006, 2009) and vault (2001, 2005, 2006, 2009), but also because of the extremely spectacular and difficult vault named after him. Now time, also for this impressive longevity at the high level of performances.


Catalina Ponor and Marian Dragulescu are now genuine leaders through willpower, dedication and understand how sports competition is an example for younger generations. A generation of young talents, who has already stated potential, becoming known for their performance achieved: Larisa Iordache, Diana Bulimar, Anamaria Ocolisan, Laura Jurca, Andrei Muntean, Marius Berbecar and more.





"History sport athletes write it. Their developments are followed with interest and emotions of millions of viewers ... ". Many Romanian gymnasts impressed by their performance over time, and former Olympic, world and continental medalists include: Elena Leustean, Sonia Iovan, Nadia Comaneci, Anca Grigoras, Gabriela Trusca, Teodora Ungureanu, Emilia Eberle, Cristina Grigoras, Ecaterina Szabo, Daniela Silivas, Gina Gogean, Simona Pauca, Melita Ruhn, Simona Amanar, Corina Ungureanu, Lavinia Agache, Maria Olaru, Lavinia Milosovici, Monica Rosu, Silvia Stroescu, Andreea Raducan, Sandra Izbasa, Catalina Ponor, Larisa Iordache, Dan Grecu, Mihai Bors, Ioan Suciu, Marius Urzica, Marius Gherman, Dan Potra, Flavius Koczi, Kurt Szilier, Marian Rizan, Razvan Selariu, Marian Dragulescu, Marius Berbecar and many others


In gymnastics not only their names remain on the board of honor of podiums, but also because they put their "signature" on making exercises that remain in history of gymnastics. One accomplishment that a gymnast can achieve (beyond the medals and titles, of course) is having a skill named them in the Code of Points. Many skills are called by their namesake. Some may be arguably misnamed, but nonetheless, we delight in the contributions the gymnast provides to the sport. After all, isn’t that one of the greatest things about gymnastics? It is ever evolving, and gymnasts keep pushing the boundaries, challenging what we think is possible. Many Romanian gymnasts have put their names in the history books: Simona Amânar (vault) - Yurchenko on - 2½ twist off (vault); Diana Bulimar (floor) - is a Johnson leap (switch leap with 1⁄4 turn to side position) with additional 1⁄1 turn; Nadia Comăneci (uneven bars) - front support on HB, cast with salto forward straddle to hang on HB; Marian Drăgulescu (vault) - handspring double front somersault with half turn; Cristina Grigoraş (beam); Celestina Popa (floor) - straddle pike jump with 1/1 turn (360°); Daniela Silivaş mount (balance beam) and Daniela Silivaş (floor) - double twisting double back tucked; Silvia Stroescu (floor) - is a stretched forward salto with 2½ twists; Marius Urzică (parallel bars) - salto forward to 1/1 turn to upper arm hang rated and many others gymnast.




“The mission of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame is to preserve, promote and share the achievements of gymnastics' greatest legends in order to educate and inspire children to achieve their own «personal best» in life… The International Gymnastics Hall of Fame honors excellence – and its power to inspire, to unify and to elevate the hopes and dreams of an entire planet... one tiny Olympic hero, one charismatic World Champion, one visionary sportsman and sportswoman at a time!”

In this gallery of legends many Romanian gymnasts and coaches appear prominently alongside other legends of the gymnastics world, as a testimony to their value and contribution to the development of the sport among sports:¸ Gina Gogean, Daniela Silivaş, Lavinia Miloşovici, Teodora Ungureanu, Ecaterina Szabo, Octavian Bellu, Simona Amânar and not the least  Nadia Comăneci.

More, new evidence of the value of the „Romanian gymnastics school” is that Octavian Bellu and Maria Bitang were included in the Guinness Book as the "Most Successful Coach" and "Most Successful Women Coach". They say behind every successful man, there is a woman. Octavian Bellu has coached the Romanian national squad since 1981. Maria Bitang joined him in early 90's. Along with the team they have obtained more than 250 international medals. The outstanding results Maria Bitang and Octavian Bellu achieved made them the world's most successful coaching duo. Their success's secret? Maria Bitang: "We have no magic wand here. It's just hard work. You can't win Gold unless you make some sacrifice”.

From 1956 when Romania won the first medal in gymnastics (1956 – women team Olympic bronze) till today, the Romanian Gymnastics Federation brought to Romania more than 300 medals (Olympics, World, European), medals that rewarded the value, the work, but also the tradition the Romanian gymnastics School has created, and at the same time, brought a huge joy to all Romanians.



Sporting activity has, however, an essential component, but less visible, represented by International Federations, Continental Federations or other bodies governing the sport world. Since the early years of its existence, the Romanian Gymnastics Federation, through its representatives, was involved in the entire activity, the author of numerous proposals for improving the Status and Regulations (limit nation participation in the finals of individual at Olympic Games, World Championships and Continental Championships; elimination of compulsory exercises from official competitions etc.).

Among the proposals that have totally changed the way of gymnastics was to contribute to the creation of Gymnastics European Championships for women, with his first edition in Bucharest in 1957 (boys started in 1955 in Frankfurt), providing an excellent opportunity for the development of our continental gymnastics. "European Championships in Bucharest, organized by the Romanian Gymnastics Federation, were the prelude of great sporting gymnastics because they paved the way for the most beautiful achievements of this sports..." wrote newspapers of the time. In turn, Ms. Berthe Villancher, Chair of the FIG Women Technical Committee says at the time that: "Our new international competition, except that it provides a genuine royal sport, has the gift to exciting new National Federation in competitive activity...". It's been 60 years! The anniversary edition will take place also in Romania, in Cluj, in the spring of 2017. 60 years have passed, but at least a hundred are left!

This active involvement in international activity was facilitated by the fact that many Romanian specialists were elected in structures of international and continental organizations. Therefore, in recognition of probity and their skills, specialists of the Romanian gymnastics were elected and re-elected in important positions in the FIG or UEG: Maria Simionescu, Nicolae Vieru, Adrian Stoica,  Mircea Apolzan,  Anca Grigoraş-Mihailescu, Maria Fumea, Alina Dragan and others.



"Aerobics is more than a sport, it is an attitude"

This line was to be followed by the followers of this new sport and Romania. With an impressive and convincing demonstration during the UEG Congress (1995, in Brasov), the activity starts in force, and the first signs are visible of a thorough success since the first edition of the World Championships in 1995 in Paris. At the same time was initiated (in 1994), the first National Championship. Generations of gymnasts and gymnasts get a record internationally unrivaled Cristian Moldovan, Isabela Lacatus, Remus Nicolai, Tania Pohoata, Valentin Mavrodineanu, Mircea Zamfir, Mircea Brinza, Cristina Marin, Petre Porime-Tolan, Andreea Bogati, Madalina Cioveie, Aurelia Ciurea, Mirela Rusu, Corina Constantin, Cristina Nedelcu, Florin Nebunu, Daniela Nicolai, Bianca Becze, Claudiu Varlam, Andrei Nezezon, and others strengthened and developed the Romanian school of Aerobics. An argument regarding the value of our sport aerobics is the presence in the European Championships, having a track record illustrating ascendency without appeal. Also in the race world aerobic gymnastics, our representatives have proved to be among the best, the number of medals won demonstrating the authority of talent and good preparations so that Romania is the first ranking nation.

Someone said that "sport is a living organism, with its destiny ...". Gymnastics fits perfectly in this assembly as one of the earliest manifestations of physical education. Gymnastics, Romanian gymnastics included, was born to win...


By Emanuel FANTANEANU - Media Romanian Gymnastics Federation

Photos from Romanian Gymnastics Federation