Romania in the news - week 22 - 28 August

Catalina Ponor (Photo source HERE)

National Championships:

Complete results on the Romanian Federation's website (WAG HERE, MAG HERE);
The Queen is Back - short interview with Catalina Ponor for ProSport (HERE);
Marian Dragulescu - competing AA again to help the team qualify for London Olympics - from GSP (HERE);
GSP also noticed how Ponor and Porgras dominated the Podium at nationals (HERE);
Results and brief analyses in Gymnastics - No Ceiling - All Around, vault and bars, beam and floor;
Pictures from Sportlocal (HERE)

Videos - from serenenz - most of the EF and second half of AA
dracsor - AA complete, vault and UB, some BB
Mihaitza48 - started to upload junior's BB

Unrelated to the National Championships:

Andreea Raducan Interview - which I missed in my previous post (read it HERE)

An opinion piece about Bellu and Bitang's absence from the competition floor I wrote for TCG (read it HERE)

Romanian Nationals 2011 - Part three

Balance beam

1 Ana Porgras and Catalina Ponor (tie)
3 Amelia Racea

I think the judges first gave it to Porgras then to Ponor only to make it a tie in the end. Ana had more wobbles but Catalina messed her double spin. Ana had better form but was a bit rushed while Catalina had better rhythm and seemed more confident. I wouldn't have wanted to disappoint any of them so I was glad both of them were happy.
Amelia Racea continues to deliver on beam though she wobbled on her tucked full. 
Gabriela Dragoi also had a good routine. If she adds back her spin combo and a more difficult dismount she can be an option for the team.
Diana Bulimar and Raluca Haidu both fell on artistic elements.

1 Ana Porgras
2 Catalina Ponor
3 Diana Bulimar

Porgras' DLO brought her the floor National title, even with the slightly bent knees on landing she seems to handle that pass very well. I wonder if they will put her full in back in the routine somewhere. At this point, I doubt anyone knows for sure. Probably are still looking for the most comfortable combo of acrobatic elemets.
Ponor was fantastic, even better than in the first day, though she still  has form issues on the triple twist. She gets closer and closer to sticking those landings.
Didi Bulimar did not have the same fantastic routine she managed to do in qualifications (OOB on the first pass, a double layout). She looked tired after three days of competitions.
I like how Racea's new floor is choreographed, I think it will do wonders for her. (HERE)

More videos on serenenz's channel on youtube.


Romanian Nationals 2011 - The videos

Ana Porgras - AA FXBB, EF VT UB
Catalina Ponor - AA BB FX, EF VT
Amelia Racea- AA FXBB, EF VTUB
Raluca Haidu - AA FX, EF VT UB
Diana Bulimar - AA FX, EF VT UB
Diana Trenca - EF UB
Dana Andrei - EF UB, VT
Gabriela Dragoi - EF VT UB
Maria Balea - AA FX,

Special thanks to Serena and Alina for uploading these!


Romanian Nationals 2011 - Part two

Racea and Haidu win two medals each


1 Ponor - with a great 1 1/2TY.
2 Racea - with an average DTY
3 Haidu - DTY - a bit lacking in power

In Izbasa's absence, vault final was uninteresting before it started. The gymnasts were required to do only one vault. Unsurprisingly, the difficulty level was underwhelming: only three vaults of over 5.3. Also not surprising was that most of the gymnasts did Yurchenko vaults, except for Bulimar (half on, front pike) and Balea (Tsukahata tucked). 

Uneven Bars

1 Amelia Racea - with a successful routine, better than yesterday I thought (14.595)
2 Raluca Haidu - good routine for her too 14. 325
3 Diana Trenca - 14.00 a surprise here, she had many small deductions but showed good rhythm and attack
Uneven bars final was more interesting to watch. The overall level was not as bad as expected. Maria Balea was the only one who fell, on the same skill as yesterday - is always too far to catch the bar  and then she had another fall on the dismount. Gabi Dragoi and Dana Andrei had mistakes on their pirouettes and had to do extra giants to finish their routines so they were heavily deducted. Porgras had a bit of a disappointing routine - she must have incurred one point in deductions on her dismount only (two large steps and bent knees and legs apart).

Romanian Nationals - Part one: All around and Qualifications

It's been a good one...
Ana Porgras won, with a fall on the UB dismount. Her beam routine is not as artistic as it used to be, the choreo is almost all gone but it looks rock solid. The floor on La Boheme is great. There are a few elements of her old choreography in it but as she will compete it, this new routine will have its own "personality" . On vault - only did a FTY, she will probably never be a gymnast to throw DTYs in all competitions but I don't think she will hesitate to show it in a Worlds AA final. On UB - she is back to her old routine and she had improved execution compared to this spring. 

Amelia Racea was second. I think her beam routine is my favorite of the Romanians at the moment because it's not as watered down on choreography and her leaps and jumps are perfection. On floor, they seem to be trying everything to make her dance more. She looks as bored as ever. It's heartbreaking really because she is such an elegant gymnast - to me that this is only a mental thing. On vault - she still has that bent knee on the second flight phase. On uneven bars she looks good, better than last spring. I hope she can add one tow tenths in difficulty on time for worlds.

Raluca Haidu hasn't improved much really. But she had a good AA competition: her beam was good (though watered down), on floor she has the same music - the artistic elements are as good or better than last year but her acro series are not as well executed. Vault was good, comforting that she still has the DTY. her uneven bars set is increased in difficulty which is good but the execution is still not there - gosh she has such nice lines it could be brilliant.

Diana Bulimar came back to competition after more than a year. She was not allowed to step with her injured foot for about four months as we shockingly found out from Cristian Moldovan (who was the commentator along with Alina Alexoi). Diana was up first on beam and though she looked very good, she fell on a front salto. She had the most fantastic floor (5.8 D score) which I didn't manage to see but Moldovan, who was also the coach that accompanied her at last year's YOF, said her artistic leaps and jumps were much improved and that she had worked a lot to solve these issues because she had understood that last year she lost to Tan Sixin because of the artistic part. They did not manage to correct her piked position on handstands on uneven bars but her transitions and dismount are nice. Unfortunately Moldovan said that the incorrect position was something that they also struggled for 3 yeas to correct while she was in the junior team.
Dana Andrei is still beautiful - but not yet the gymnast that can make it to a World championship.

Gabi Dragoi - is still far from what she could become. Uneven bars can still place her in the National team should the circumstances allow it. It's good that she still has four events.

I didn't see much of Diana Trenca - but she doesn't seem changed compared to last year.

Maria Balea fell on uneven bars again, other than that she looked good but tired.

Catalina Ponor showed some exciting gymnastics: beam was very good, better than in 2007 really; her floor routine although with some execution errors, looked solid. And her Yurchenko 1 1/2 was fantastic. The TVR commentator Alina Alexoi said that she landed a DTY on podium training the previous day. 

As a conclusion, Romanians had a good day overall, but the two "problem" events are still lacking. Beam was fantastic with three routines scoring above 15, on floor the coaches and choreographer are trying to find routines that are pleasant to the audience and suit the gymnasts' personalities -way better than in the Puia's era; Vault  was not so good - only two DTYs and a one and a half TY. Uneven bars have improved slightly compared to last year as there are now four routines with around 6.0 D score, but the same execution errors are still there.


about Bellu and Bitang's absence from the competition floor...

Photo credit Luisa B
Read my article in The Couch Gymnast and let me know what you think. Will they finally be there in Tokyo?

Their appearance at Worlds would be a sign for the rest of the world, especially judges, that they are 100% behind the team. And for this Romanian squad to be a winning one, their presence on the competition area will be vital. Because Romania, without Bellu and Bitang on the podium, is like a masterpiece without an autograph and a golden frame: still brilliant, but not as bankable.


Izbasa, Chelaru, Iordache to miss Nationals

According to TVR, Iordache is out due to a muscle lesion, Izbasa felt pain in her tendon (but not the one that was injured in 2009) and now has a special training regimen, while Chelaru is still recovering her routines after an older injury kept her off the apparatus for a while. 

Prosport goes further and reveals that Diana underwent surgery on her abdominal muscles in order to remove a hematoma that appeared after a fall off beam at 2009 Euros.

I am sad. This should have been the third Romanian Nationals of Larisa Iordache. Izbasa's vaults and floor routines would have been among the top gymnastics moments of the weekend. Diana Chelaru could have consolidated her position as an all arounder.
So yes, I am saddened by the news but I am not worried. Romanian Nationals are not a high stake competition.

If anything, it is good that the gymnasts are not rushed back.


Russia still has Heart and Hope

By which I mean Demy and Komova respectively.

The Russians had a successful national meet last week which has resulted in nominating the national team.
Ksenia Afanasieva qualified first (complete results) but as it often happens she did not have a great competition afterwards and the AA was won by a consistent Anna Dementyeva followed by Vika Komova (AA results). The individual titles went to Anna Pavlova (vault), Vika Komova (uneven bars and beam) and Ksenia Afanasieva (floor)  (event final results).

As a result, the squad for Tokyo is composed of: Anna Dementyeva, Victoria Komova, Iulia Belokobylskaya, Ksenia Afanasieva, Tatiana Nabieva, Maria Paseka - the alternates being Alyona Polyan and Iulia Inshina.

On the whole, this seems to be the only alternative for a team and very few gymnasts that could potentially contribute have been left out: Ksenia Semenova and Anna Pavlova being the more notable examples. I understand that Semenova was not in shape - she seems to be getting there but it is already late and she is lacking in difficulty while the few extra pounds have a damaging effect on her E scores. But Anna Pavlova is an odd case. Alexandrov seems to be discouraging her to continue on purpose. 

However, this will be a strong team:
Vika Komova will be a fantastic asset on beam and uneven bars especially because she has proved to be quite the competitor in the team finals and all around. With her D scores in the high mid 6's on uneven bars and breathtaking execution she will be approaching that 16 barrier on the apparatus and will also be one of the favorites for the event finals. On beam, although her D score is somewhere around 6.3 at the moment - her good execution and beautiful lines will help her score above 15.

European AA champion will also be in the spotlight as she is becoming quite the star gymnast - from the cute newcomer she was in 2010. Demy will be one of the favorites for the AA, as she now has a DTY (although not yet brilliant), her UB D score above 6 now, with a beam out of 6.7 and a floor of around 6 D score, all topped with polished presentation and a charming presence on the podium.

Let's not forget Iulia B - she's fantastic on floor (was third at Euros in the EF) and although did not manage to make a name for herself as an UB or BB worker, I can assure you she can surprise one or two people with her difficult routines (both of over 6.0 D).

Afanasyeva has a new floor routine. Much like her last year's routine, I love it because through her dance and choreo she manages to interpret the music, to "translate" it. On beam and uneven bars she is as inconsistent as ever and her DTY is not looking brilliant.

Photo credit: Brigid McCarthy
When I think about Nabieva, and I know it's such a clichee, I imagine this little stubborn face and Alexandrov telling her - "if you give me just one Amanar and one decent uneven bars number you are free to do whatever you want to do". I am sure she wants it too, but I am not sure she will be able to return to where she was last year, much less to top that. But stranger things have happened.

Paseka will be a mistery to me until Ghent CC. I will tell you more about her after that.

The alternates are quite strong too:  Alyona Polyan -  we saw she was good enough for a world team - at least as an alternate - at the Summer Universiade. Long story short, she was third in the AA and won floor. She is capable of 14+ scores on both FX and BB ( and this happened in an international competition!), has a weak uneven bars set.

Iulia Inshina was fifth AA, on BB and UB and second on floor at Russian Cup last week, Here is her uneven bars set:

So provided everybody does their job at Worlds, Russia will be more than just covered in all the right places. It's early so say if they have a shot at gold this year but they sure will be an extremely beautiful and balanced team.


US Nationals - highs and lows

First and foremost, I wish Rebecca Bross speedy recovery and I hope she will be back in shape and competition ready in spring 2012.
Here is my take on the best and worst from US nationals, leaving Becca out of the discussion:

Best three were as expected: McKayla Maroney’s Amanar - I don’t believe there is any point in having debates on who has the best Amanar ever but this is as good as it gets, especially the one from Day 2 was up there with her most successful ones; Jordyn Wieber’s Amanar: although not as good at Maroney’s, this vault is very reliable too; Alicia Sacramone’s Rudy (Day 1)- power, amplitude, execution, just the step on the landing which will always be there so we have gotten used to it by now.

Gray area: Gabby Douglas’s DTY (the vault she did at Jeloso), Macko’s DTY – you never know when they can go wrong.

Disappointments: provided that Aly Raisman sticks to the DTY (which looks nice) there are no routines that are thought of as contenders for a TF or a Qualifications scenario and are not decent.

Uneven Bars

Best three were - Wieber - I hate the beginning of that routine. I am far from being an UB “specialist”, so don't mind me, but those kips look labored and she looks as if she is managing all elements with force rather than swing. But it gets the job done.
 Macko (day 2)– Yes, 6.0 SV is not good for an event specialist. Except that Macko is past the event specialist status so as long as she gets the 9.0s and 8.7s for execution  (granted in a home competition) she is guaranteed a high mid 14’s mark at worlds too!
Shawn Johnson - her routine from night one was where she wants to be at this point. She will add more difficulty in the next weeks especially now that she gained so much confidence.

Gray area: Gabby Douglas – I love Gabby Douglas’s bars but on this event too she always seem to have 50/50 chances of success (day 2). 
Memmel: I think Chellsie looks good on UB and I thought she could add 3-4 tenths and make it a nice one. But the shoulder incident in night two indicated the chances of improving are actually slim. (day 1)

Disappointments : Anna Li – It would have been nice but she was doubting herself too much (day 1, day 2).
Bridgey – she seemed Anna Li’s little sister (in terms of nerves and fear of competing) rather than Macko’s :) (day 1, day 2).

Balance beam
Best three: Wieber's - a routine of average D score (at a World scale) but a routine she handles really well. Respect for the way she managed to stay up there on day one! (day 1, day 2
Sacramone: Despite having a few wobbles on the second day of competition, Alicia’s beam is still a strong event for her. (day 1, day 2)
Shawn Johnson: Dear SJ, thank you for listening to your instincts and keeping the sheep jump out! Your routine is very enjoyable without it! (day 1, day 2)

Gray area: Memmel, because she is a rock on beam BUT she seems to be taking the “trick - paaaause - trick” to a new level. (day 1, day 2)

Disappointments – no obvious ones. You are disappointed when people don't perform at the level that was expected, but I don't feel it was the case.  Douglas (with her difficulty - at Jeloso) and Anna Li (with her artistry - day 1) do come to mind in this category but it's more about what I wished it could happen and less about their possibilities. 


Best threeWieber, again is champion of consistency on floor. And she may not be the most gifted dancer but she does not look embarrassed nor out of place. On the contrary – she manages to show excitement and does not hide the fact that she likes her music; she sells the routine. (day 1, day 2)
Raisman – her major challenge is to stay in bounds on the first pass, which is great and is worth the risk. She too seems comfortable with her music, though not as successful in conveying the feeling of excitement. (day 1, day 2)
Sabrina Vega: I like the music and choreography and she is consistent. (day 2)

Gray area: Sacramone - success is not guaranteed but it does not look like she will not get there in the next 6-8 weeks. I like the music but every time I watch her routine I expect a little more from the choreography. (day 1, day 2)
Maroney: because she is inconsistent. And who does an arabian double front as a last pass anyway? (day 1, day 2)
Chellsie's routine - although she is getting there difficulty wise and has good tumbling, there is not much artistry in it (day 1day 2).

Disappointments: the overall level on floor was a bit disappointing, as TCG also pointed out, there are simply too many steps taken, OOBs, uncontrolled landings, things that hurt the final score.

Based on this, the US team would be: Wieber, Maroney, Sacramone, Raisman, Macko, Johnson
Alternate: Memmel/Vega

What is your team?


Romania in the news - week 15 - 21 August

Deva are aiming at winning the Senior National title in Onesti, where Romanian Nationals are starting on Friday. The team will be composed of: Raluca Haidu, Diana Trenca, Amelia Racea, Beatrice Margarit and Maria Balea ( source: Mesagerul Hunedorean, article HERE)

Catalina Ponor's birthday was last week, on the 20th. She told Libertatea she will not have much time for partying and that a 24 year old gymnast sees things differently. (Source The Couch Gymnast - from Libertatea; articles: HERE and HERE).

Ana Porgras interview (by Curaj Romania) - HERE

Last interview of the Curaj series - Sandra Izbasa HERE

A few articles on Romanian Gymnastics Federation website about the Summer Universiade where the Romanian MAG team have won five medals. This year's big goal is qualifying a full team for London Olympics. (; articles here and here)

Fangymnastics have started a series called Beatrice's Journal - written by a former Romanian gymnast who retired from gymnastics at a young age (from what I understand). (source:; article HERE )

And Catalina Ponor posted what seems it will be her floor music on her facebook page. It needs a bit of editing because the original piece is over five minutes long, but it suits her well:


Summer Universiade - China's Xiao Kangjun wins AA

the medallists from left to right:
Mai Yamagishi, Xiao Kangjun, Alena Polyan 

The favorites of this AA final seemed to be Yana Demyanchuk (European Beam champion in 2009, multiple finalist at worlds and europeans), Xiao Kangjun (because she was the Chinese:P), Alena Polyan of Russia, Jo Hyunjoo of North Koreea (finalist on various events at Worlds) and the two Japanese Mai Yamagishi and  Yu Minobe  (because they had contributed to Japan's victory in team finals).
It was an interesting competition to watch. 
Xiao Kangjun was the leader after the first rotation an maintained her position throughout the competition, with brilliant bars (15.00) and solid beam (14.20). 

Alena Poyan looked very happy with her performances. She seemed fit and competition ready from the beginning; her only weakness were bars where she struggled with the transitions and with hitting handstands. Other than that she was very confident and poised. This may be a long shot but it looks  she would be able to help that depleted Russian team at Worlds in Tokyo. 

Mai Yamagishi and Yu Minobe had similar performances with one notable exception that was the difference between second place and fourth place: Yu's fall on the UB dismount (lovely routine otherwise). They presented low but acceptable FTY's, good uneven bars routines, showed confidence and grace in their beam work.

Yana Demyanchuk did not look like herself yesterday. From the beginning, from her laid out Yurchenko, she was a bit off (12.75), then she fell on UB. I did not see her beam routine but by the score - 13.95 compared to 15.2 in the first day of competition- it incurred a big deduction, probably for another fall.

The surprise of the competition was Kristina Palesova who had one of the highest marks of the day on UB 14.05 and successful, though easy, beam routine (13.65). Low difficulty on floor and VT dropped her on 5th. 

Jo Hyunjoo started well with a 14.05 on vault but she withdrew after a nasty fall on uneven bars.

The complete All Around results are HERE


Romania in the news - week 8 - 14 August

Your weekly fix of all things Romania!

(It's about time Romania had an article a week with links to all noteworthy articles, clips and other goodies published in the last seven days, right?)

- Ecaterina Szabo spoke to Jurnalul National about her bitter experience as a Hungarian native in Communist Romania. Original article HERE and translation by Fangymnastics HERE.

- Andreea Isarescu recently got married and of course her old team mates were there for her on the joyous occasion. Read the article HERE.

- An interview with Catalina Ponor who looks super-slim and determined by Curaj Romania, watch it HERE.

- Also by Curaj Romania, on Facebook, an album of over 50 photos from Izvorani, check it out  HERE.

- The Romanian MAG team won the bronze medal in the team competition at the Summer Universiade. Article HERE.

- From Romanian Gymnastics Federation - the schedule for Romanian nationals - HERE.

- This week's episode of The Medal Factory (one of the best so far!) was about Sabina Cojocar. Read a translation by Fangymnastics HERE.

The Story of Larisa Iordache - Part 4

Routines and elements

"Repertoire": over the last 12 months, Larisa has been competing Yurchenko vaults: FTY, Yurchenco 1 1/2, DTY. In 2009 she competed a round-off half on tuck at nationals.

Can she improve? Yes. If her execution of twisting elements in general is a good indication she seems capable of a TTY, let alone an Amanar.

Best scores: Larisa has received very good execution scores for her DTY, most notably at the French nationals (9.6) and at Gym Festival in Trnava (around 9). However, at EYOF, in July 2011 her E scores were around 8.6 for the same vault. Unfortunately I was unable to find footage of any of the routines but the images from previous competitions show that she is a clean vaulter in general.

On the downside: she has only competed easier vaults so far. With the level, on this event, of the best all around gymnasts in the world she needs a 6+ vault.

Memorable routines: her Yurchenko 1 1/2 at Schiltigheim (October 2010) and at Nationals (September 2010)

Uneven Bars
Repertoire: stalder + stalder with counter motion to high bar, Maloney + clear hip circle, giant 1½ + piked Jaeger, sole circle 1/1+ Tkachev+ Pak salto, stalder with counter motion to high bar, full twisting double piked, full twisting double tuck.

What will she add next? Probably in the next period she will focus on re-arranging elements in order to get more bonus points. The targeted dismount probably is a double twisting double back.

Best scores: Larisa's best UB scores were received recently at Gym Festival (June 2011): 14.9 in the AA competition and 14.25 in EF. In the most recent competition, EYOF, her high score on this event was 14.25 (all-around competition).

Weakness:her E scores on this event can fluctuate greatly, between mid 7s and high 8s, the problems being bent arms, bent knees, poor handstands.

Memorable routines: At Gym Festival 2011 in Trabzon (qualifications)

Balance beam
Skills: flic-flac + tucked full, double turn, switch leap ½, aerial walkover+ flic-flac + layout stepout, front picked + back tuck, side somi, split jump + sissone, switch leap+ back tuck, round-off+ flic-flac+ triple twist;
She has experimented with an L turn (in competition) and a layout to two feet (I've only seen that in training);

Can she upgrade? Yes, by adding an artistic element of D or higher value. She could also add the layout to two feet somewhere in existing routine or by inserting a new series (round-off +layout to two feet for instance);

Highest marks: 15.6 in EF at Gym Festival, 15.5 in qualification et EYOF;

Weaknesses:  she doesn't really have a weakness on this event. Her D scores have fluctuated between 6.5 and 6.7, since September 2010. Execution-wise she constantly scores above 8.5;

Watch this! her BB at Trnava and at EYOF.

Range of skills: passes - whip to triple twist, full in tuck, 2 ½ twist+  front tuck + front tuck, double tuck
artistic elements: triple turn, quadruple turn, double L turn, Johnson, split leap 1 ½, switch leap + switch leap with full turn;
what elements to expect in the future: 3 1/2 twist, Silivas;

Highest scores: 14.85 at Gym festival, 14.60 at EYOF;
Problems on floor: sometimes she has problems with the quadruple turn, her leaps are not credited all the time;
Must see: her routine at 2010 Nationals and at Gym Festival 2011 .

Ok friends, it seems that we are done with part four. It's been a long one! And it represented, for me, the nitty gritty I am not always good at. Now more than ever if you have anything to add, corrections etc. please leave a comment - it is appreciated!

You can read the first three parts here:


The Story of Larisa Iordache - Part 3

Training with the seniors
new team mates (Larisa is second from right to left between Raluca Haidu and
Diana Chelaru)

In September 2010, before Romanian Nationals, it was announced that Larisa Iordache had been transferred to the “Olympic team”. In other words she had started to train with the seniors under Bellu and Bitang. The head coaches, whom had taken over the preparation of the national team in June 2010, had as main goal building a competitive team for London 2012. Bringing Larisa over (at only 14) was among the measures to achieve that.

At the Nationals, in the junior competition, Larisa won gold medals in the all around and on all the event finals. The story becomes “boring” after this:

- October 2010, Larisa was sent, together with seniors Dana Andrei and Diana Trenca and junior Maria Balea to an international competition in Schiltigheim. She again dominated, winning the all around with a total score of 58 points and all apparatus finals (on vault it was a tie with France’s Elodie Perez).

- May 2011: she is sent, along with other team mates in much need of gaining competition experience (Haidu, Andrei, Trenca)  at the French Nationals. Wins AA, VT, BB and FX

- June 2011 – Gym Festival (Trnava) wins AA, UB, BB, FX

- a couple of weeks later: Great Britain vs Romania (friendly meet between the junior teams). Larisa wins AA and gets the highest scores across the board

So here we are, in July 2011 at the European Youth Olympic Festival  - Trabzon 2011. For the first time I was nervous for her: this was the big meet of the year and this was the first time since april 2010 when she was supposted to be competing against those Russian Juniors, especially Anastasia Grishina and Anastasia Sidorova. Add to that Bellu’s statements that this was the meet which had to put Larisa in the spotlight, to make a reputation for herself. I say reality check time seasoned with a bit of a killer pressure from head coach.

But the Russians had once again managed the impossible and Grishina and Sidorova were left home to mend some new minor injuries aquired out of the gym.
With one challenge out of the way – thing that I bet did NOT make the coaches nor Larisa as happy as some may think - the battle now was with herself: competing three days in a row all around without having a major mistake.  
The final result speaks for itself in a way: 3 silver medals (team, VT and UB) and 3 gold medals (AA, BB, FX). By "in a way" I meant that in the all around the margin was of about 2 poins so even with a fall, she couldn’t have lost that title. 

On top of those medals, Larisa came back victorious: international press (meaning mainly us bloggers LOL) were raving about her and most importantly, she stayed on the apparatus, "on her feet", until the last routine, for three days in a row. Not bad, I say.

We have seen in parts 2 and 3 of my rants about Larisa Iordache how she beautifully developed, since 2008, on the international scene. Up next, in part 4, I will take a look at her routines and the skills she has competed during these years but also ask the big question: is she capable of more?


"I wish Mariana many medals

especially on beam" is Octavian Bellu's wish for Mariana Bitang on the 49th birthday.

"I am like a mother... a mother must also love them and tell them when things are not going well" she said to the press who wanted to also find out what presents she had received. She gracefully replied she was aware only of the flowers and there were also some unopened boxes somewhere.

Mariana Bitang was congratulated by the president's wife who also brought presents for the gymnast. The gymnasts sang her happy birthday and said that they needed to regroup and bring home shiny medals (Ponor), and that they love it when Mariana is happy, the atmosphere in the gym is much nicer - Izbasa (why did we have a feeling it was the case :) )

Also a nice present from Ana Porgras watch it here (at 00:40).

Other clips, most of the times same images but you can discover interesting things if you watch closely - here and here:

The Story of Larisa Iordache - Part 2

"Junior" years

This part is about the some of highlights of Larisa’s long junior international career whisch started in 2007 and it continues in 2011…

In 2008, when she was "already" 12 years old Larisa and team mate Diana Bulimar participated in the Top Gym competition in Belgium. Larisa finished the competition 4th all around (behind Jordyn Wieber, Yvette Moshage and Kamerlin Moore) and had the 4th highest score on vault, second on beam (0.05 behind Wieber) and 1st on floor (tie with the American). On uneven bars she had the 14th score in the competition.

A few weeks later Larisa took part in 2008 Challenge international, a junior competition held in Netherlands, together with team mates Patricia Tiron, Mihaela David, Ana Maria Baicu (all of whom are now retired from gymnastics). She finished the competition 4th all around behind Corrie Lothrop, Olivia Courtney and Amanda Jetter. She had the highest marks on beam and floor, was third on vault and 9th on uneven bars.

In 2009 her most notable competitions were:
 the National championships which was the first time she competed on the same “scene” as the Romanian senior gymnasts. Granted 2009 was not a particularly good year for the Romanian national team, Larisa stole the show. Here is her BB routine, when Alina Alexoi, the Romanian National Television commentator is in awe of the discovery.

 (For the ones of you that don't speak Romanian her's a summary: she (the commentator) first says that  Larisa seems sure footed, then is amazed by the tucked full, then she says she doesn't want to make her fall so will refrain from praising her, then she starts again by applauding her leaps, jumps and acro skills only to be shocked by the pirouette and the triple twist Larisa throws in the end.)

in November 2009, Larisa returned to Charleroi for the Top gym competition. It was time for redemption: she won the all round and the beam final. She also competed in the UB final, finishing 7th.

In 2010, prior to the Euros, Larisa and the other members of the Junior team were allowed to participate in the Romanian International competition (outside the contest). In the first day she had some mistakes in the AA competition, finishing 6th but the event finals she stole the show from the seniors (once again): she had the second highest total on vault, was 3rd on UB, 1st BB (better than first place – Ana Porgras) and 1st FX (higher score than Diana Chelaru who won the final).

At the Junior Europeans, a few weeks later, in a competition dominated by the Russians, Larisa was among the few gymnasts who were able to challenge them. She contributed to the team’s silver medal and then took bronze AA (behind Komova and Grishina), was second on BB (with an watered down routine) and shared the first place on floor with Anastasia Grishina.
Up Next – Larisa’s development in the last year, since she became a member on the Romanian Olympic team. Don’t miss tomorrow’s “newspaper”!

Read the first part here:


The Story of Larisa Iordache - Part 1

The beginning
Larisa Performing one of her signature moves - Top Gym 2009
Photo source

Born on June 19th 1996 in Bucharest, Larisa is the “child” of CSS7 Dinamo. You know who else was from Dinamo? I am sure you have heard of this name before: Aurelia Dobre. Larisa’s first coaches at Dinamo were Mariana Silişteanu Câmpeanu, Raluca Suciu Popescu and Vladimir Potop

She comes from a family of athletes: her mother was a handball player who had to give up the sport when her family was unable to financially support her anymore and her father was a football player. Larisa’s brother, who is five years older than her, is also a professional footballer. Unsurprisingly, when she was little Laris also wanted to take up a sport: ballet.

But, as it happens, one day she was spotted by a gymnastics coach while rollerblading in the park. Mariana Silisteanu, the gymnastics coach, seeing the kid’s fearless and poised attitude asked her mother if she wanted to send her do gymnastics. The answer: no.  

Nonetheless she allowed Larisa’s grandmother to take her and check out the gym. It was not love at first sight for the five year old. Still, once she overcame her shyness and tried to do some gymnastics elements, the was won.

In fact, after the “play” hour had ended, she did not want to leave the gym anymore.
As time passed, she wanted to work more and never seemed to be bored of the training. He coaches started teaching her harder and harder elements eventualy starting the training appropriate for a future elite athlete.

By the time she was eight years old she had won her first gold medals at the “Little gymnast” national contest. And she loved it. Whenever she was second or third, that meant her ambition increased, it was only a sign that she had to keep working in order to maintain her status of best gymnast in the team.

At 11 she became a member of the junior national team and moved to Onesti.

Larisa's floor routine - 2007 (same choreo!)

Beam, same competition in 2007

Don't miss the next 4 parts about, among others, her results as a junior and how she ended up in the Romanian olympic team at 14 - I will post them in the following days.