Why Romania Got It Wrong

Today, Romania kind of, sort of, probably, maybe, a little announced that Catalina Ponor will compete at the Olympics this year (because Romania) with Larisa Iordache as her second-in-command court jester, and to that I have to say….hrm. Incorrect.

It’s a difficult choice with arguments for both, but Larisa Iordache would have been the more prudent selection. Consider this the counterargument in favor of Iordache.

This quad is already lost for Romania. Nothing that happens at the Olympics will salvage it because the team didn’t qualify, but some manner of medal would at least symbolically indicate that there’s still life in the Romanian program. The only consideration for this spot should be who is more likely to be somewhere near medal form at the Olympics. At the Olympics. Not right now. At the Olympics.

That person is Iordache. Let’s break it down.

The first problem for Romania is that none of the performances at last week’s nationals were good enough to merit a medal if repeated at the Olympics. (Well actually, I take that back. Some of those beams from Ponor and Iordache would have medaled at worlds last year because that final was a tire fire, so you never know.)

At this point, to get a medal, the Romanian representative would have to rely on mistakes from others or improve markedly before August. That’s the first check in Iordache’s column. She is the more likely to improve between now and August 7th since she was competing at maybe 11% of capability at nationals, and while Ponor still looked a little hospitally herself, she was at a solid 45-46%.

I’m normally all for rewarding the one who brings it on the day and earns it in competition, but if neither looks like a sure medal bet, go with the one who just might look better given a little more time to come back from injury.

Now, since the Olympics are just a month away, we can’t expect a miracle for Iordache. She wouldn’t have time to return to her normal, legitimately-top-three-in-the-world level, but she would have some chance to get a little cleaner and a little closer and perhaps steel herself to chuck a random DTY.

Based on nationals, however, Romania has elected to bet on Ponor’s ability to medal on beam or floor over Iordache’s ability to improve. (Why Ponor is even doing vault at this point, I have no idea…)

On beam at nationals, both Ponor and Iordache showed a good one for 15.1s and a bad one for 14.3-14.4s. Ponor looked the more prepared and refined of the two, which is her primary argument, but that’s exactly why they should have picked Iordache. An under-trained Iordache’s peak beam score matched Ponor’s peak beam score (all of these scores were a kitten hiccuping rainbows, but we can compare them with each other), and Iordache would have that extra month to get somewhat less under-trained. Maybe add a skill back to make her difficulty more competitive. I’m not saying she necessarily will, but once again at least you’re allowing for the possibility rather than shutting it down.

The two are not all that different on beam even now, which means Romania is going with Ponor over Iordache based on…her ability to medal on floor? It could happen, of course. It did in 2012 when it seemed unlikely going in, but Ponor is not a medal favorite on floor. That would be Biles, Raisman, and Steingruber. Then there’s Murakami and Miyakawa. Shang. Frags or maybe Downie. Probably a Russian (I’m not putting Afan here because she has her own problems to deal with). It’s a lot of people. Ponor would be right in the mix with that group but would not be expected to medal without some help.

We can probably say a similar thing for Iordache in the all-around. Under normal circumstances, most would be predicting Iordache to get an AA medal along with Biles and Other American. She’s not there yet and won’t be by the Olympics. It’s too much to ask, but with the race for bronze so wide open, Iordache could be somewhere vaguely in the fight given a month more of training. At least qualifying in the top six would seem possible (it took only a 56.5 at worlds last year top six, though it will take more this time), which is critical in terms of exposure.

Exposure is key for Romania right now, and those top six AA qualifiers are the gymnasts the world feed follows. That’s a big part of this as well. Iordache does the all-around. The all-around is more important than event finals, so if you have someone who might finish sixth in the AA, that’s a bigger deal than someone who would do the same on floor.

Am I calling a medal for Iordache? No. But am I calling one for Ponor either? Not really. So why not bet on the one with the bigger possible prize, and the one with more upside? The one who could get a little better. The best gymnast in your country. You have nothing to lose at this point, Romania. Go big or go home!

And if the ship goes down, then the ship goes down, but at least it went down taking a risk with your best gymnast.

Plus, let’s be honest, that ship already went down.

44 thoughts on “Why Romania Got It Wrong”

    1. Ahem.. They changed their mind aparently. And now Ponor is not even competing in the friendly meet in France, which should have been another contest between her and Larisa..


  1. It’s ok. Romania will be in trouble again in 2019 and Ponor will just come back and get another spot… How many times can she keep going in and out of retirement before people realize there’s a fundamental problem occurring? The country can’t keep relying on Ponor to save its butt.


  2. Yes all of the things you said….AND Larisa has worked her ass off and carried this team the entire freakin quad! It just feels so wrong. I don’t personally believe that older gymnasts should step aside and let younger ones “have their turn.” (Yes I know Larisa’s been to an olympics). Generally I feel if you are the best, you deserve the spot no matter how many times you’ve been there before. But actually in this case I kind of wish Ponor would step aside. And is she really the “best” anyway? Ugh. People will get mad at me for saying that b/c it’s not Ponor’s fault. Logically I know this. But when the team didn’t qualify I kind of wanted her to retire and let Larisa have the spot she deserves. There! I said it! Hate me. 😔


  3. Agree agree agree.

    I think they said Iordache will go as well and they’ll switch them out if necessary. Really?! You’ve made a massive fuss of Ponor and you’re going to switch out last minute? Seems likely.

    And what is this nonsense about Ponor carrying the flag? I’ve seen a few teams’ regulations and they’re all like no opening ceremony for you, Glen Coco. So. They think Ponor has a better chance of medaling but two days before qualifications she’ll be carrying a flag around for hours? Because she has endless energy and nothing better to do?


    1. Ugh!! And I hope they’re not making Iordache do the dozen friendly meets that aren’t even qualifiers anymore. What is the point of all this nonsense?


  4. Yes, all this exactly! Exposure does count! It may be there would be every chance Larisa wouldn’t qualify into the top group, but she definitely stood a chance! Which means most of her AA routines would likely be shown. Well, even if she was in the second group they’d be showing her routines(in London I recall them showing most of her AA routines). Not on the NBC feed maybe, but the international feeds. That counts for a lot, seeing a Romanian name and face in the mix there during the AA competition, which along with the TF the average viewer tends to care more about.

    In a lot of ways Larisa is the sentimental epi centre of gymnastics this quad, I think and it feels wrong for her to left behind. I know many don’t agree with this stance but I always thought if Larisa was well enough to be able to take the Rio spot, it should have been hers. It feels like a lack of respect for her she wasn’t given any consideration beyond “One of two options”.


  5. Do you think they could be playing some mind games here? Perhaps they hope that naming Cata much earlier than anticipated will light a fire under Larisa to get pull together a much more solid all around set before the end of the month. I wouldn’t put it past them to push Cata aside at the last minute and have Larisa compete (and carry the flag for that matter). This is one of the most unfortunate storylines of this Olympic Games… with Iordache at less than 100% (or not in it at all) it makes the all around final that much less exciting.


  6. I respectfully disagree.

    1. The MOST IMPORTANT THING here is mental stability. Clearly, any Romanian being the sole representative of her country would be under immense pressure. The gymnast needs strong mentality to perform since the whole country is on her shoulder. Who would you trust in terms of mental strength? Cata is a no-brainer

    2. You can’t really predict how far a gymnast can improve in one month, and it is unfair to say that Cata has reached her peak. If Cata can improve her D-score in one month, Cata can also increase her E-score which both improves their final score. Don’t forget that Larisa always get penalized for her form

    3. Finger injury isn’t a really big injury, Larisa still trained with it, but just not full training. So, she actually didn’t only trained her program shown at Nationals for one month, but several months


  7. I’m not convinced Iordache as an AAer will get that much exposure during the Games. The field is weak, but she would have upgrade not one but FOUR events to be in the conversation NBC didn’t show a single routine of hers in 2012, in AA. They might be more inclined to show her especially if she’s in the top group, but average Jane isn’t going to care if she finishes 10th. Ponor is a bigger name anyway.


    1. The average joe won’t, but any one who knows anything about gymnastics should care* NBC isn’t the feed most of the world will be watching) even most 4 year fans. Especially when they have commentators explain the situation and if it was Larisa – it will be explained how she was multiple AA medalist this quad and she’s the “lone” survivor. Someone like my mother who knows all about Romania’s gymnastics history will care. I have not mentioned to her what happened to Romania, being a 4 year fan(she was a “proper” fan back in the 80’s) I’m not sure she could compute gymnastics talk outside of the Olympics airing – so I will explain it all to her when the time comes.


  8. I already commented, but I had more to add. It does bother me Larisa wasn’t give ANY extra consideration. People seem to get angry about this as if it is saying Catalina is less deserving. As PEOPLE, of course not. But as athletes and gymnasts? Based on THIS quad? Then yes I do think Larisa earned the spot “more” than Catalina. This is NOT an insult to Catalina. It’s not that she was a lazy, opportunist who came in to steal the glory at the last second. Of course not. I get that maybe this doesn’t matter to a lot of people, and it’s not a big surprise that the Romanian.Olympic Committee or whatever didn’t care, and because of that I do understand. However, it was even the RFG(RGF?) who were basically claiming them equals(as in equal contention) for awhile now. That struck me as immensely unfair as it WAS Larisa who had to deal with the stress of the falling program over the last few years, it was Larisa who was team leader for those 3 years, and it was LARISA who earned Romania 4 World medals in those years Based on that I have to disagree completely that Larisa doesn’t have enough mental toughness. Yeah, she fell on beam a lot during EF’s, but so what – compared to everything else? After Romanian’s failure during Glasgow, and her individual melt down that prevented her from making any EF’s – she came back and fought like hell for that AA medal. How is that not mentally tough enough?

    I am well aware of Catalina’s amazing accomplishments, I just don’t find that to relevant in THIS discussion. I agree with the fact Romania has nothing to lose anymore so they may as well have given the spot to the girl who kept the program going the entire quad. Hasn’t she at least earned that? They didn’t think, so and to me there is only way to look at it – an insult. Thanks for your help Larisa, but no thanks!

    I get that it’s not as though Catalina could have helped any oft his. It’s not her fault she wasn’t out there competing the whole quad, hey, maybe she would have if she could have forseen herself at the Rio Games.Though Catalina was from a different era, she has multiple OGM’s, so I don’t know she and Larisa could ever be directly compared in their experiences.

    Maybe Catalina has a better chance of winning medals, but maybe not. Let’s just say she doesn’t qualify for any finals. Which is actually quite likely when it comes to the floor final as I’m not sure Catalina’s difficulty will be enough. Most top floor workers right now have more difficult tumbling than she ever performed herself. It’s not impossible, but floor will probably be a fairly competitive final to get into. In Larisa’s case this is basically impossible as she would make the AA. It IS surprising the Romanian’s gave this fact no weight at all.


  9. even if Catalina is in better shape Larisa should go just cause she should be already automatically qualified for winning a AA bronze medal last year. It is unfair to exclude AA medalists from qualifying. She deserve that spot, even if she compete with one leg, it is her spot


    1. It’s not Iordache’s “spot”…she did not earn one in 2015 as an individual, even if you think she should have. Furthermore, the spot was earned when Romania placed 7th as a team at the test event in Rio, which Iordache was not a part of because she was injured. That slot belongs to Romania.


  10. Llarissa did not cualified for olympics. The rules are not the way you think. If Larissa had won an individual medal on an apparatus final. No one else could go to Rio but her.
    In London rumania cualified just because Ponor and Isbaza, and and Ponor wasnt floor favorite for medal. But she is one of those gymnas able to impruve herself under any circunstancies. I can not say the same for larissa.


  11. People need to start basing opinions on FACTS not FEELS.
    Iordache’s body is falling apart and that’s pretty much the sole reason she is not going to Rio.
    This was her UB routine from event finals:–B_0
    it’s clear that her ankle is bothering her on the dismount, and she’s in tears, likely due to the pain. In addition, she withdrew herself from FX EF…
    The selection committee had no choice but to take Ponor.

    C’mon people start looking at current evidence instead of being sentimental.

    At this point, even if Iordache were to have auto-qualified to Rio based on her AA bronze in Glasgow, who is to say she would be able to compete.

    She needs to rest.


  12. I agree with this. Larisa has been working hard for Romania during the whole quad, being the sole source of most of their international medals. Catalina has achieved a tremendous amount during her whole career, but this quad truly belongs to Larisa. The Romanian federation claimed that the upcoming friendly meets would be factors in the decision, only to decide the fight is over before the girls could be judged internationally. It is unfair that Larisa was not given the chance to show improvement. I would be completely fine with the decision if they had waited until after the friendlies and it was certain that Catalina is obviously the stronger one – the strongest one deserves to go. However, based on how well Larisa did at nationals, I do believe that she could have improved a significant amount during the next few weeks.

    The federation is not doing itself or the girls any favors. Now, it has been announced that Catalina is missing the upcoming Romania-France friendly while Larisa is still on the roster. This seems very shady to me. They could be doing this to prevent a possible scenario where the two went to the meet after the spot was already decided and Larisa proved that she was actually significantly ahead of Catalina. Which would further prove what we already know: the RGF are idiots. Would they still send Catalina while knowing that Larisa is the better choice of the two but with the excuse that Ponor is healthy so Iordache, the traveling alternate, has no reason to step in? Or would they go back on their decision and give Larisa the spot, which would be unfair and heartbreaking to Catalina after she was told that she was going? Either way, the situation would be a mess.

    I love Catalina, she is one of my all-time favorite gymnasts, and I understand that she would want to keep training after getting surgery and Test Event so that all her hard work would not go to waste. None of this is her fault, and I sincerely hope that she does amazing in Rio, I’ll be rooting for her all the way. (on a side note: she had a 6.5-6.6 beam at nationals without the double turn and the full-in dismount that she has been training, so I do believe she can medal on beam if she hits, and as for floor, she did completely surprise us in London so who knows?) However, Romania made the wrong choice by announcing the winner of their contest before Larisa could fully prove herself.


    1. Iordache fully proved herself when she limped off the podium after her UB routine and then withdrew from FX finals.

      If you are too injured to compete one month from the Olympics, an extra week is not going to make a difference.

      I hate to say it, but she did it to herself.

      Don’t blame RGF, blame FIG who overlooked AA individual medalists qualifying from the previous Worlds.


  13. Larisa seems to have some serious injuries right now. And she might have a slight concussion. There is a part of me that wants her to compete Rio because she DESERVES it. Another part wants her to heal properly so she can do gymnastics pain-free. It is awful to see her in pain.

    If Larisa is healthy and still upgrading her difficulty, then I think she would be the obvious choice. However, her event final performance at Romanian Nationals makes me believe that she is injured and needs to take a few weeks off. She cannot afford that much time off and be competitive in Rio.

    Cata was suffering from an illness at Nationals. However, she can recover from an illness faster than Larisa can recover from an injury.

    The audience in Rio better give whichever Romanian gymnast there a standing ovation just for … showing up. These two young ladies have been through so much.


  14. To play devil’s advocate – maybe they picked Catalina as an honorary thing. This Olympics is already a tragedy and stain on Romanian gymnastics. Maybe they’ve decided to cut their losses and showcase one of the all-time greats. Cata is a 5-time Olympic medalist, including 3 golds, and was the most dominant gymnast at the 2004 games. She adds 5 worlds medals and 12 European medals – she’s not just the best active Romanian gymnast, her legacy stands up to ANY gymnast from ANY country in history. That’s a massive feat.

    Then you have Larisa. Cute, talented, but always underachieving based on her potential. She has one Olympic medal, 4 worlds medals and 11 European medals. Stellar gymnast, but by all those measures she doesn’t compare to Cata.

    But I think the biggest factor is she is more fragile and injured for key moments. She had plantar fasciitis at the last Olympics and weeks/months before these Olympics she injures herself and needs surgery. Not that these injuries are her fault, but at the biggest moments she isn’t 100%.

    It may be about getting the best single event medal at these Olympics, but it may be equally about honoring one of the all-time greats.


    1. I agree that Cata is a legend. She is one of the sports all-time greats.

      With that said, there is no way RGF picked Cata just to honor her. I believe they would send Larisa to compete in Rio if she were healthy and had regained her Worlds 2015 difficulty. Lari simply is not in shape right now to challenge for medals. I can’t imagine her health allowing her to get into competitive shape between now and Rio.

      Cata in her present shape can make Olympic beam final and floor final. She would have won silver on beam at Worlds 2015.


  15. I don’t necessarily believe that Cata is the worse choice, but I don’t like how the Romanian Federation laid out that there would be other meets involved in the selection process and then went back on their word.

    The way that the announcement was handled just seemed unprofessional to me. For example, there were Romanian sources saying that Cata was chosen to be the flag bearer (which I must say I am excited to see, now I won’t be as bored during the parade of nations) while the RGF’s facebook page was still talking about Larisa and Catalina fighting for a spot. I also heard that both girls found out about the decision through social media.

    As others are saying, I believe that Cata is, in this case, a good choice, given that Larisa is still recovering and still very fragile (she got a concussion AND hurt herself after bars at nationals, that is not a good sign to me).

    And at the end of the day we can blame the FIG for their stupid rule about AA medals.


  16. Disagree, I think Ponor deserved it. She’s still on the upward trajectory. Iordache is not looking great, meanwhile Ponor is in the best shape of her life. A month is not long to improve the amount Iordache needs to improve to make her competitive. I look forward to seeing her at future worlds though.


  17. Larissa’s only medal chance is on beam, and unfortunately she has not been able to earn a world medal there the entire quad, is her best apparatus yet she is so inconsistent. Larisa truly should have medal the last three years on beam, she had the goods to do it, even beat Biles. Cata, though not a fan of hers, has proven to be more consistent when it counts and since her only chance is beam as well, I will rather take a chance on her than Iordache. Larisa was truly competing in pain at nationals, she was taken to the hospital with a concussion, she was limping and crying. Plus she doesn’t have a month left, at this point they should be about 90%, not 10-20%, considering they still have to make the trip to Rio, get adjusted to time change, weather, is winter in Brazil now, while is summer in Romania. I rather see Larisa rest, get healthy and make a great comeback and kick some butt at next year worlds.


  18. Eh, I think even if Larisa close to 100% then Catalina is a safer option, especially if there’s only one person who can go. I trust her a lot more to hit when she needs to – the girl’s crazy consistent, she’s only fallen twice in competition I believe, once after not training vault until a few days before, and the other time when she was in the hospital the day before. Larisa, meanwhile, consistently falls in qualifications or in finals, so her medal chances don’t look good at all (especially if she isn’t completely healthy now either).


  19. You can’t base selection on where a gymnast could be in a month, especially not when the country has been deeply embarrassed already and is just hoping for a good performance. Ponor, even at 45 percent as you say, performed much better than Iordache. Ponor has a less steep hill to climb to get to 100 percent on her best events. So Ponor should be the choice.

    It’s also clear that the medal for either of them at the Games would be played out in event finals, and in those competitions Ponor has a much better record of hitting than Iordache. Iordache had medal opportunities on beam at the 2012 Olympics, 2013 Worlds and the 2014 Worlds. She fell every time. She doesn’t do well in pressure situations on beam. That leaves floor. And there there’s no comparison between what Ponor did at Nationals and what Iordache did. Larisa could challenge Ponor at 100 percent. But on floor she looks a couple months away from being in top form. The Games begin in one month.

    As for the All-around, even at her best Larisa’s a loose cannon. Sure, she won bronze in Glasgow, but she also finished out of the top 10 in qualification.

    Once again, it’s dangerous to give Olympic spots based on “Well, with a bit more time she might…” That more often than not leads to disaster. The choice is clear: Ponor.


  20. An stupid article. First of all, Catalina’s vault – because she is part of his club team from Constanta, and her team, beated Cetate-Deva at last Nationals. Second, you talk without information. Only a bla-bla for traffic. Catalina Ponor is the best choise and she will win 2 medals.


  21. I just wish that the romanian olympic commitee and gymnastics federation would stop playing banana republic.
    The qualification process should have clear rules stated well in advance, the selected gymnast should be named on a previously fixed date by a responsible selection panel.
    It looks just like irresponsible adults with no consideration for the gymnasts physical and mental healt are changing the selection criteria and dates as they whish.
    If the poor Iordache is not at the top of her form yet, then

    1. What the hell was she doing competeng in France at a friendly meet with juniors this weekend without a chance of proving herself against Ponor?! Let her train or recover, she deserves at least this kind of respect.

    2. Name an alternate who can compete the all around, let her train, get some experience and build for the future instead of throwing the whole senior team in the garbage! how can you push young talented gymnasts like Jurca, Irodon and Peng to consider retirement? It does not look like a serious management.

    3. Thank you to Iordache, to Ponor and to all the other fantastic romanian gymnasts for your dedication and your patience despite this ridiculous selection process, I whish you smarter managers who take responsibility for their actions in the future.

    4. Olympics are going to be sad without Iordache, she will be missed and the quality of the competition will be lower. It would be great to automatically qualify all gymnasts that medal in the all around.


    1. Talk for yourself. Iordache is not the same. She scored only 13 last days in France for all aparatus. No way for her to get the Rio ticket.
      The trial ? Well, Iordache was in trial at Glasgow and she failed. That was the exam. We don’t have gymnasts. Are you satisfy with this answer ? This is what do you want to heard ? Well, yes. We don’t have right now, but will have a real team and real fresh values.


  22. What happened to Romania? They’ve been dominant for decades, but over the past 5-10 years they’ve completely dropped off. I see it as poor development of their juniors into mature, competitive seniors. There’s Cata and Larisa – who else do they even have? How did Romanian gymnastics come to a screeching halt? What happened?


    1. I will give you an explanation. Most components of national gymnastic team were from Moldavia region, which is poorest region of Romania. Also, it was about the poor families who gave her daughters at gymnastics club from Cetate-Deva, the most famous club. In the past 10 years, Romania joined the EU and therefore, due to the freedom to travel in EU, 4 million Romanians have left Romania, and of course, Moldova. Thus, Romania has been without a basis for selection.
      Larisa is not in a good shape, believe me. In fact, she is out of cards. We are extremely lucky with Catalina Ponor. In fact, she give us a real chance for two medals, balance beam and floor.


  23. Huh, probably the best way to deal with certain statements is just not to answer, but I feel cold after this shower of inexact informations…

    This is the first time I see a country announcing the selected gymnast before the planed date. It is extremely unprofessional and disrespectful.
    It does not matter if the decision is right or wrong, it is still unprofessional to announce it this way.
    Take Switzerland for instance: even cows there knew that Steingruber was the obvious choice for olympics, but the official decision was announced by the competent authority, on the due date only last week.

    Oh, by the way, Iordache didn’t get “only 13 for all apparatus” in France: she got
    15.300, 14.200, 13.800 and 13.500.

    Also, I don’t think to talk only for myself by saying that Iordache is going to be missed at Rio by many many gymnastics fans, who enjoy her gymnastics and respect her as a person, even when she is not a medal factory.

    And just in case, Europe still has 28 states.


    1. Really ? 28 including Brexit ? So be it. We are unprofessional. Are you ok with that ? Your ego is satisfied ? Larisa is the best gymnast in the whole world. Everybody is ok ? Catalina Ponor will be at Rio and nothing is gonna change that, no matter what. This is the last comment on this post. I’m full to explain for someone who don’t want to understand. Nice day/evening to all of you.


  24. Wow, haitchi, you’re a bitch. Just wanted more explanation about the decline of Romanian gymnastics with political factors explaining it. No need to be an asshole about it.


    1. Anonymous, I don’t care about you because you don’t exist. Your opinion is zero. This blog is not important. This article, the same. You can’t touch me.


    2. I’ll try and give you a more appropriate answer to the decline of Romanian gymnastics – as seen by a Romanian.

      – One reason, as mentioned above – although, I think this is far from top 5 – might be Romanian migration. I’ve been noticing junior names like Ana Padurariu and Victoria Jurca as top Canadian gymnasts (these girls, I’m almost sure, have Romanian parents who left Romania). There’s also Roxana Popa and some more. On the flipside, Laura Jurca is born in Germany and competes for Romania although her parents live in Switzerland. Silvana Peng’s dad (yes, she also has a dad) is Chinese. If I don’t really see a problem for gymnasts, migration is definitely a problem when it comes to couches (think America and GB, but also at a smaller scale – clubs everywhere. I’ve recently seen a gymnast from Qatar at an international meet competing bars and her coach was Urzica) .
      – Another reason, which has to do with politics at a much smaller scale involves the Romanian Federation, the couches Bellu&Bitang (B&B), Lucian Sandu, the Romanian Olympic Comitee and probably others. Now B&B are quite drama queens. They have been resigning and coming back for over a decade and I have a feeling that they simply do not want to take responsibility for less-that-golden teams. They declared themselves not happy after London, did not congratulate Ponor for her 2012 olympic silver on FX and resigned yet again after failing to qualify a team at the Test Event in Rio. During B&B’s off-periods, Lucian Sandu takes their spot as head coach. Now this guy is a walking disaster. He lost his temper at the JUDGES during the Test Event and grabbed and pulled one gymnast after she had a fall on beam. I’ve been studying him for a while and think he is the main reason for Romania’s inconsistency problems of the last 2 years along with B&B coming and going as head couches. He is also the reason (again, just the opinion of an obsessive gymfan) for the countless injuries in the senior Romanian team. If you look at the last year alone, literally everyone has been/is injured: Diana Bulimar&Lariasa Iorache have both had multiple injuries, Ponor with her tendon, Jurca just had surgery, Dora Vulcan also had surgery. Munteanu and Stanila have “motivation issues”, Iridon has something of the same. As many people have noticed, Romanian juniors are fine. They are not the best in the world, but live up to the expectation of a Big4 country 60% of the time – they got European team bronze, and have medal contenders on all 3 events, because Romania. The problem is when they become seniors they tend to not evolve at all in terms of difficulty, develop serious consistency issues, and end up injured. Lets break this down: If everyone is dying and everyone is inconsistent then this is a coaching problem – both a conditioning problem, an inability to teach varied skills problem an inability to maintain (not even build) mental strength. Sandu, as I said is a walking disaster, but for some obscure reason, despite his disastrous track record he is the one to follow B&B (“the most decorated coaches in history”). Now can you blame Sandu alone? No, of course not. B&B did nothing but complain of Romania’s downfall, but no coach could grow near them. They did have the moral responsibility to leave this to someone of their caliber. Instead, they engage in petty drama (much like Ponor&Dragulescu do – the perfect successors) on TV and/or social media. But beside B&B’s moral responsibility for the coach to follow, which they can honor or not, the head coach is the responsibility of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation. I have no words to describe their amateurism and corruption levels. So where is this going. Although there is a severe gymnastics coach drain in Romania at the moment – which is due to migration, as above mentioned, there still are better coaches than Sandu who are not the ever-volatile B&B. One of them is the guy coaching the juniors – Forminte. It’s a miracle he’s still here after all the humiliation the Federation and B&B put him through (if I go into this, this post will never end). He coached the Romanian team at the 2008 Olympics, he coached Ana Porgas (who retired after he was dismissed as head coach in favor of B&B sometime in 2011), Diana Chelaru, Stela Nistor, Sandra Izbasa and so on. I’ve also been studying him for a while. He seems like a loving father to the small ones during competition and really works hard to make them mentally strong. But I’m sure these juniors will develop into injured and inconsistent not-world-class level seniors. Because if Sandu is verbally abusive to judges then he is verbally abusive to gymnasts. Why is Forminte not head coach? Politics, I’m quite sure. He is known to not get along with either B&B, Ponor and the Federation. Are there others? Yes, I think there are, but they probably have their own issues with the Federation. Plus, who would want to be head coach of a team and step down whenever B&B decide they want to come back for a couple of months and then step back up again? A bit like Ponor coming back for the Olympics (the only reason she didn’t come back in 2008 is she didn’t want to work with Forminte).


  25. I think this most recent meet in Germany has shown that Romania made the right choice in Cata. Poor Lari is still clearly hurting, and while she may have carried the team this quad, she got hurt at the worst possible time. Cata is the most likely to go in and get the job done in Rio.


  26. The pathetic author is basking in the delight of the faded glory of Romanian gymnastics. People, wake up and smell the roses! Put politics and personal interests aside and bring back Romania’s national team, stronger and better!
    So we may show these assholes who write these types of “articles”, that a true champion might fall a few times, but doesn’t disappear forever, like many of those haters out there wish!
    USA, Australia, Great Britain and many other countries have gymnastic teams BECAUSE OF ROMANIAN EXPATS! So…without our co-nationals…they don’t exist!


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