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".


Anonymous said...

Response ...

Dmarten said...

I personally don't think they will fire Forminte now..they really don't have anyone to replace him, and there's no way in you know where they'll ask B&B to come back. So, I suspect they'll wait until after the Olympics to replace him-if they do. Forminte's not a bad guy, but he's had some really rotten luck with injuries. Also, you can't tell me that the bad publicity Romanian gymnastics got in Romania from 2000 to 2003 didn't have something to do with the current lack of gymnasts right now in ROM-specifically the abuse stories.

Anonymous said...

Un..."erou"??? Glumesti,nu???Nu pot sa cred ca ai o perceptie a realitatii atat de deformata!