Ana Porgras: out for 3 more weeks...

yes, it's that bad...

Mirela Basescu has visited the gymnasts at Izvorani. She reports for Prosport that, although wearing a cast Ana is not resting: as a part of the recovery she is doing a training for strenghtening on the uneven bars and is mentally rehearsing her beam routine. With the stopwatch in one hand, Ana stays on the beam, her eyes closed for tens of minutes, visualising the whole exercise in her mind.

"At first, I found hard to accept what happened to me, that I seemingly give out to an injury after another, but now I think that this is a test and I must reamain strong."
About Rotterdam: "I hope I don't have health problems and now I have exhausted all my injuries. I wish God gave me what any gymnast wants: to become a champion."

"I cannot wait to come back. I miss a "hard" workout. I am not worried about the competition on the beam, I think it's good because it gives me extra motivation. Competition gives me courage, I don't have to let them surpass me."

The article, by Mirela Basescu, can be found in Prosport.


what were the odds?

Most of us have shed a tear for poor Alexandra Marinescu's bad luck in the Olympic BB final. But now I don't think it was only bad luck. I have recently found footage of the podium training on youtube. To me, she doesn't look at all prepared to show the skill in competition. I've heard all the coaches saying that a succesfull routine is one during which the gymnast manages to present the skills just like in training... Well it is, isn't it?
This is podium training:
and this is the EF :(


Fresh Feeling... thank you, Lauren!

one of my favorite channels on youtube is pickedjaeger. Lauren's montages are great because they always remind me why I love gymnastics despite the controversies. This is Fresh Feeling:



I am too depressed to post anything. It all started with the malicious comments I read after the Europeans and it deepened when I discovered that so many Romanians think that Belu and Bitang have been UNJUSTLY removed from the national gymnastics team.
and then I watched the Secret of Deva (I started to cry about 4 minutes after it started and couldn't stop until the end)
and the two documentaries TCG posted (which of course made me smile as well)
plus, I realized that too much space on blogs and forums is dedicated to malicious comments. I appreciate well-reasoned critique, but mischievous words affect everyone, especially the gymnasts and their families.

I will be much more careful, even if I risk to become dull.


The most brilliant Romanian beam of the '90s (?)

It's Andreea Cacovean's (the best Romanian Junior of those times):

or this version, 2 years before, as a junior:


Happy Birthday, Monica Rosu!

well, i'm a bit late, because she turned 23 on May 11th.


In his own words..."The gymnasts know better when, how and in what way Forminte encourages them "

It seems that I, Brigid (the editor of The Couch Gymnast blog) and Rick (from Gymnastics Coaching) are among the few people that are backing up Nicolae Forminte these days. I have read on gymnastics forums all sorts of bad things about him. I have no idea to what extent these are based on reality, but I have learnt to judge and write only based what I have seen with my own eyes. And, so far, Formite is more of a hero. He may be a part of an older generation of coaches, he may have some old fashioned methods and approaches. But, as Rick said "it is not easy keeping Romania, a small and under-funded nation, competitive with the best in the World."

I found the other day, on a gymnastics forum (gymnastics forums are not the source of all evil against Forminte, after all), a great interview with him. Someone commented that it's as if the man finally found someone to talk to. So true! This is my translation of Filip Standavid's extraordinary interview, published on voxpublica.

FS:"How fast could Ana Porgras recover? According to various newspapers, she will wear a plaster cast for at least 3 weeks"
NF:"Right now she doesn't have a cast, she has an orthesis (An orthopedic brace, splints, or appliance).
First we must wait for the foot to deflate. Everything depends on her ability to recover now. If she has “good flesh” as they say in popular terms, then we will hope for a more rapid recovery."

FS:"Is she the only senior that has problems? I had understood that Raluca Haidu is having some issues as well."
NF: "Yes, Raluca has some troubles as well. She has had a radiography and it seems it’s only a wrench. The stress of the debut, I would call it. The radiography shows no other changes. We hope she’s gotten away with just that. She will do an ultrasound as well but it’s just a sprained ankle in my opinion."

FS: "Could we conclude that using Ana Porgras in the team finals meant pushing things too far? She said she was in pain even befor the contest."
NF:"When you are in the elite of any sport you are never 100% healthy. I have never seen an elite athlete that does not have any problem, smaller or greater. As for this theory of forcing her, when you have such a small number of gymnasts...what would have happened if I said we couldn't go to the Euros because one of the gymnasts had ankle pains? What do you say of such an approach of this issue?"

FS: "Wasn't there any replacement?"
NF: "No.We have three gymnasts that are recovering after surgery, the ones from the older generation (Sandra Izbasa, Anamaria Tamarjan and Gabriela Dragoi) and you can't ask them to compete, on one hand because they are not ready yet and on the other hand because they have weight problems. I understand everyones's desires, the aspiration of maintaining a tradition for Romania, but the reality is completely different. We can have 3-4 gymnasts, but they are not in that cathegory of gymnasts capable of acomplishing what the nation wishes and of maintaining the tradition. I did not have any replacement for Ana so that we could still go there and fight for the podium."

FS: "Isn't Ana risking to join this group of gymnasts you were talking about, that are not certain of going to the Worlds or not even the 2012Olympics?"
NF: " You are approaching a very sensitive subject. It is easier for people to say "Forminte does something to them, the training system is wrong and unprofessional and this is the source of all injuries". The problem is much simpler: since he has accepted to take all responsibility for this team, Forminte understood very well that he would be publicly lynched if Romania does not remain always on the podium. All medical investigations we had Ana Porgras do before the Euros did not indicate anything that would announce this crack. She had a radiography: nothing showed up. She had ultrasounds: nothing showed up either. In this context, a small issue, a small pain, any athlete can have. The crack appeared only in the end of that beam routine, on the dismount. I did not have the means to immediately know what was there. But I certainly did know that without her we wouldn't have remained on the podium after the UB. When she did her dismount in the warm-up, seeing her grimace, I spoke to the Italian physical therapist, that we had in our team, a person of extraordinary professionalism. He made a "boot" for her, a fuctional bandage, in which the leg was safe. Her uneven bars dismount did not worsen her ankle problem."

FS: "Did you ever think that missing the podium would cause you losing the job of national team coordinator?"
NF: "No, it did never occur to me.Tomorrow, if I am asked to leave, I leave. And as I said before, I would like to invite others to try and do something under the current circumstances. When you are on the side, it seems easy. But no one will ever accept Romania not to be on the podium, even if some would declare that."

FS: "Do you think that the three gymnasts, from the "Beijing generation" that are now recovering, will be ready for the Worlds?"
NF: "It is hard to make a prediction. They were injured when they were teenagers and now they are women. Except for Izbasa, that does not have weight problems, I am seriously doubting that the other two will be able to train for the Worlds. In Romania, we do not care for the ones that are gymnasts for gymnastics' sake. We must always have gymnasts that are capable of winning medals. It is certain that the ones mentioned will have a special training programme and an additional one. We will see if we manage to motivate them for what we want to obtain."

FS: "Greater care, therefore. for Tamarjan, Dragoi and Izbasa."
NF: "Not greater care, greater expectations"

FS: "On the other hand, the nicest surprise, I would say, of all the seniors in Birmingham, was Diana Chelaru, an obvious growth, compared to last year."
NF: "I am glad you have noticed that. There are gymnastics specialists that either do not want or do not have the capacity of noticing that".

FS: "But, as she was saying, after the floor finals, she would want to have a cleaner routine. It could have been silver..."
NF: "If we think about Chelaru, on the events that she proved she has an inclination towards, it is enough room for progress, both on vault and floor. About the floor: she knows all the elements that would be needed to obtain a D score pretty high for this event. I'm thinking 6.3, 6.4... But as they say, I would also want the pregnancy to last for nine weeks instead of nine months. You know what I mean: I cannot accelerate the learning process so that she can have an element in her routine any faster. The elements or connecting them are mastered in time. How much time, it depends on each individual's rythm, on his/her psycho-motor skills. I am glad that Diana has evolved, but I am even happier that she has started to understand what it's expected of her "

FS: "Wouldn't a specialization on floor and vault be beneficial for her, instead of working for all four events?"
NF: "You can have specialists only when you have a numerous team. Indeed, she will become more specialised on vauld and floor but you can't... look, there are these incidents: in case Ana wouldn't have been able to compete, we would have had Chelaru do the beam instead."

FS: "She has a competitive beam..."
NF: "Yes, only she doesn't have Ana's confidence. They have similar D scores but they are different types of athletes. If Diana looks good on vault and floor, on the uneven bars and beam, Ana looks prettier. She has long lines, she has the appropriate allure. In the more dynamic events, Diana is competitive. It is certain that the tradition doesn't allow me to sacrifice the team. What do you think others would say if Romania did not have the team on the podium, even if we won medals?".

FS: "The gold medalist, Amelia Racea seems to be fragile. She had measles, a few months ago. How does she feel?"
NF: "Amelia will have to -and she has already started to- have some profound investigations, in order to see where this fragility comes from. I have not accepted the versions I got so far, that were something like "she refuses to work, to make an effort". At first I though that might be true but I have been watching her closely and my conclusion is that this child really has a problem. We have to find that cause. She will have some tests taken and we will find where the limitation comes from."

FS: "She seems weak compared to last year. How much weight did she lose?"
NF: "She did not lose weight but she has grown taller. Not very much so but enough for her to look a little different".

FS: "How well and how fast can Raluca "Pitic" Haidu develop?"
NF: "Raluca can grow a lot. She needs to develop physically, to become a bit stronger (this can only happen in time) but technically, she has the ability to do more. But we must be patient with her. I would be happy if she had an explosion next year, closer to the Olympics."

FS: "Cerasela Patrascu has linked the team at Birmingham, but she didn't compete. When will we see her compete on four events?"
NF: "She will have to lose weight as well. If she does, my hope is she will be an option for the next stage."

FS: "She is still an option for the Worlds, in other words?"
NF: "She should be, but if she doesn't lose weight she stands no chance. There's no point in taking her there to link the team one more time, because the girls have already started to build a connection - we have Ana, we have Chelaru, that have already paricipated in two big competitions. These medals, although not exactly what I had hoped are marked by nerves, lack of confidence, the pressure of gaining a medal. I cannot express my content because if I did that, it meant they could start to relax."

FS: "Couldn't the exact opposite happen, couldn't they lack motivation because of that?"
NF: "It's a risk I don't have the right to take. When they notice my content, the girls will feel entitled to take a break. It's only natural, the feeling of content does not create the strive to become better than you are now. I'd rather be the bad guy. If being the bad guy helps them become better, I will gladly become the one they all bash. The gymnasts know better when, how and in what way Forminte encourages them and for me that's enough".


TCG Magazine third edition

With a great article by.. me :P.
Actually there are two articles i wrote: one article about Romanian Internationals and the second part of "the Lost Girls" of the '90s
I was just kidding, the entire magazine is great. I didn't manage to read all the articles yet, but I can say that the interview with Anastasia Grishina Inez's article about Portugal are wonderful.
You can see the entire content here.


yet another favorite floor routine

Back in the day, when Sandra Izbasa was just a teenager with powerful legs and small face, Catalina Ponor was winning her third and last european beam title. Leting aside the fabulousness of that beam set, Catalina had plenty of originality in her floor routine as well: the music, the choreo, the wonderful turn with her leg above the head...
Although it could have had a higher tumbling difficulty, this is one floor exercise worth remembering. Only 3rd place at the 2006 Euros, in a final won by Izbasa, followed by Vanessa Ferarri.


Prosport reports: Ana Porgras's diagnosis; Forminte not satisfied with the EC results

In a tour de force, Prosport filled us in with the latest in Romanian camp :
First and more importantly, Ana Porgras was given a diagnosis: fractured fibula. Due to this injury she will have to either wear a plaster cast for three weeks or have the leg in a cast and stop training for three weeks (I didn't understand either). The National team's doctor said that while in GB, one day prior to the Euros team final, she had a leg scan test but the fracture didn't show, that's why they suspect that it appeared after the low landing from the balance beam during the contest.
You can read more in Prosport.

Also, Nicolae Forminte answered some questions the journaists had:

"Was Amelia's gold medal a surprise for you?"

"Racea has proved she is a mentally strong gymnast, too bad she has a low effort capacity, but in the future we have to solve this problem"

"You pulled Ana out of the EF, how is she?"

"Ana's ankle problem has worsened after the team finals, after landing very low from beam. We had done an MRI in GB, but the doctors could not find the cause of the pain she was complaining of. It was not easy for her to sit and watch as others were receiving medals."

"Couldn't you have protected her during the TF or in the qualifying round, for her to be able to compete in the EF?"

"The team is the priority. Ana does not have a privileged status compared to the others. They are all a team and they must compete as a team. We came here with all our valid gymnasts, so we didn't have any other strategy to think of."

"Were you surprised by Raluca Haidu's clean beam routine"

"Haidu, had she kept her calm better, could have won the BB. The fact that she could fall twice during the TF and not miss during the EF shows that gymnasts are human beings, not robots, and making mistakes is normal. No matter what you do as a coach, the chance is also important during the contest."

"For the first time in years, we had two vault finalists"

"It is our return to normality. I am happy with Chelaru's vaults. Without exaggerating, I would have seen her on the podium, she should have won bronze. On the floor, without the incident from the third pass, she deserved the silver. Diana has had a great progress, she has corrected her form."

"What are the conclusions?"

"I can't draw any conclusion at the moment, the good part is that there are no new problems, the old ones have remained but the general feeling is of dissatisfaction. This is all we could do with all the health problems and lack of experience of the team."

The interview can be found in Prosport.


happiness your name is beam, balance beam

Teammate: "Amelia why aren't you happy? You should be jumping around..."
Amelia: "Dude, you're sick! Did you not hear what happened to Ana?"

Euros - Ana Porgras withdaws from the event finals

It's a sad day for Ana Porgras who has qualified with the best score for the Beam finals. I wish they hadn't used the in the TF and at least given her the oportunity to compete in the BB...
Here replacements are: in the uneven bars - the first alternate Vanessa Ferrari and in the balance beam, Amelia Racea. Amelia who scored 13.9 had the 9th score of the qualifications but she was the third Romanian and she was not listed as an alternate.
I wish them all good luck!

Junior Event Finals: Beam and Floor

Victoria Komova does it again, this time in the Beam final. With a stellar E score of 9.1 (!!), Komova captures her 4th gold this week.
On the second place it was Larisa Iordache (:D) who competed first in this final and on third Tess Moonen of the Netherlands.
Floor: It's a tie for the gold: Grishina and Iordache both score 14.275. On the third place Sidorova of Russia.
Great achievement for Larisa, being the only non-russian to win a gold at this Junior European Championships!

Junior Event Finals: Uneven Bars

Grishina and Komova offer us great routines again and they place on 1st and 2nd place.
On third place: Diana Bulimar. Well done Diana!
This is her routine from the AA:

Junior Event finals: Vault

Russian Victoria Komova, the only women to throw a Yurchenko 2 1/2 at the 2010 Europeans, had won the vault finals. Victoria not only had the highest D scores (6.5 and 5.8) but also the best E scores: her average - 14.95. On the second place, Maria Paseka of Russia and on third Erika Fasana from Italy.
The Romanians finished on fourth (Larisa Iordache- average 13.862) and on sixth place respectively (Diana Rusu - 13,487).


"with the pants ripped in the a**...

...and people are still expecting gold" this is what Nicolae Forminte answered when a reporter asked about his medals expectations. He knew that Russia was too good to be defeated and he had so many injury-related worries that he was entitled to expect the worst. Today, Russia was a good team, not at its best but close enough. Great Britain on the other hand, had a fantastic day.
But Romania...With Ana Porgras in tears because of the pains she was having after each dismount, with a really scared Raluca Haidu (injured as well) with a still shy but constant Amelia Racea and a slightly happier Diana Chelaru, Romania looked like a team crawling to the end of the meeting.
In my opinion, Ana Porgras shouldn't have been used for the uneven bars. Not even if this had costed Romania the bronze. If this bronze means breaking Ana Porgras, I really hate it and Forminte should hate it even more. But it's easy to speak and difficult to be the national team coordinator, the parent and Santa Claus for these girls. And after long months and years of hard work, pain, broken fingers and more pain, you want them to have the medal. Even if it's bronze. And maybe you think that sacrifying Ana Porgras is worth it. Even if it doesn't.
In the end, Romania did not lose today. The correct statement would be: Great Britain won silver.
I know, it's artistic gymnastics and those girls from Great Britain are anything but artistic. But they are tough. The moment they finished the beam rotation without a fall (and we all expected about 4-5 of them :P), they were as good as European champions for me. And they had Beth Tweddle with them. Her uneven bars set is bliss, her floor is horror, but she hits and has sky high D scores. What more could we ask from 25 year old gymnast?
And then there was Russia: they deserved the title, but their win was not by a safe margin. With a fairer score for Nabieva's Uneven bars and for all three Vauls, plus one fall from Semenova or Myzdiakova, and they would have lost to Great Britain. They area great, beautiful, great difficulty, but they need to work on consistency.
All in all, it was not a terrible day. Except for Ana Porgras's tears, that I will never forget and for which it will be hard to forgive Nicolae Forminte.
PS. photo by Ollie Williams. I found it in an interesting article on BBC Sports page