Sandra - news presenter for a day

here are the images from GSPtv


Happy B-day Ana P.!

or watch here
montage by gymnastnathalie96


Romania training in Milan

On short, there won't be to much time for shopping, the camp looks like a relatively secluded place that will allow them to train in private. I love how Mariana helps Diana Chelaru with the hairpin and then she says "we don't want to be fashionable (referring to clothes)... we only want to have interesting fashionable gymnastics and come back on the podium"

Top Gymnasts in 2010 according to FRG and my (not so thorough) attempt at undestanding the rankings

"At the end of a competitive year marked by many successes, both in artistic gymnastics, and aerobics, major international competitions - the World and European Championships, Youth Olympic Games, World Cup, the Romanian International Championships, National Championships and other top contests - a year of important changes regarding the organization and the preparation of the teams, a year that brought dissatisfaction as well, the Romanian Gymnastics Federation drew the linedenoting, according to tradition, the year's top 10 gymnasts 2010 in artistic gymnastics(women and men) and aerobics in the top rankings ranged Ana Porgras, Flavius Koczi and Mircea Zamfir whose performances this year are quite well known."

Rankings and some facts:

1) Ana Porgras
Most notable results: BB World Champion, 1st on BB in Ghent World Cup, 3rd with the team at Euros, 1st in the AA, 1st on Beam, 3rd on Floor at Romanian Nationals etc.

or watch here

2) Diana Chelaru
Most important results: silver on floor at 2010 Worlds, bronze on floor at Euros, 2nd on Floor at the nationals etc.

or watch here

3) Amelia Racea
Most important results: gold on BB at Euros, 3rd with the team at Euros 2010

or watch here

4) Sandra Izbasa
Most notable results of the year: 1st on Floor at Ghent World Cup, 1st on Vault and Floor at Romanian Nationals, 2nd on BB at Nationals, 2nd at the Arthur Gander Memorial
or watch here

5) Raluca Haidu
Most notable results: 3rd on beam and 3rd with the team at Europeans, 1st AA at Romanian International, 9th all around at the Worlds

or watch here

6) Gabriela Dragoi
3rd on BB at Romanian Nationals, 4th with the Team at Worlds

or watch here

7) Diana Bulimar
Notable results: 2nd on FX at Youth Olympic Games, 3rd on UB and 2nd with the team at Jr Euros

or watch here

8) Larisa Iordache
Notable Results: gold on FX, bronze AA and silver with the team at Jr. Euros, 1st AA and in all EF's at Jr. Nationals

or watch here

9) Cerasela Patrascu
4th with the team at Worlds, 3rd on Vault, 2nd on UB at Romanian Nationals
or watch here

10) Dana Andrei
Most notable results: 3rd on UB at Romanian Nationals
or watch here

So, according to FRG, 1st place in the World Cup beats Jr. European Gold AND Youth Olympic silver... wich is surprising for me. I would have had Ana, Diana and Amelia on first 3 spots as well... on 4th maybe Diana Bulimar (for her YOG silver), 5th Larisa Iordache (because of her Gold at Euros), 6th Raluca Haidu, 7th Sandra Izbasa, 8th Gabriela Dragoi, 9th Cerasela Patrascu and 10th Dana Andrei.


Andreea Raducan Book Launch

Andreea and her family

"This book is a part of a small gallery of publications that show what happens behind a medal. It's a good thing Andreea had the courage to write such a book. In general, we all try to forget the unhappy moments but Andreea doesn't want to forget. She wants to remember even the moments that caused her nightmares and maybe made her grow up too soon." Octavian Bellu

"I always said that all the important events in my life happened at the right time. What would you do if you were me? Would you take back your medal? Yes? Then I will try get my medal as well. Still... I don't know, The president of the IOC, Mr. Jaques Rogge was the president of the committee, for my case in 2000. To go now and ask him for my medal doesn't make sense. So, for now the answer is no." Andreea Raducan

see more pictures in Prosport


Sad news from Izvorani

Tamarjan and Patrascu have retired! 

In an interview for Prosport, Mariana Bitang said it was Cerasela's decision to retire, she simply didn't want to continue; while in Anamaria's case it was a decision influenced by her parents and the coaches because she has some back problems.
Asked whether there are any health problems among the gymnasts in the national team, Bitang said that the only injury is Diana Bulimar's but she underwent a knee arthroscopy and she is recovering well. Bitang also said that 6 juniors have started to train with the big girls (probably Bulimar, Madalina Neagu, Larisa Iordache, Diana Rusu, Beatrice Margarit and Maria Balea), some of them will become seniors next year, some in 2012.
About Sandra Izbasa's desire to continue: "She is a boost for the other girls. Sandra is also motivated by the progress she sees in others, and she is constantly improving her routines; she has reached a maturity that allows to realise that she can be rewarded for all the hard work she has done for years".

Six months have passed since Bellu and Bitang have returned to the national team, the period of adjustment is over "Now we know each other and we finally speak the same language.".

Read the entire interview in Prosport.


Sandra Izbasa Interview

I spoke to Sandra in Ghent, a couple of months ago, she had just returned to competition and looked like something ... different. I don't have an awful lot of experience in interviewing gymnasts, but she was a surprise to me; I hadn't imagined she was so cool: a professional athlete as she described herself but also warm, open and extremely polite at the same time.

Read the interview here and if you missed it, my Ghent report from the 7th issue of TCG magazine.

Bonus: some not very fortunate pictures from Ghent- I somehow managed to find them on my computer

Sandra, Ana and Lucian Sandu

Jessica Gil Ortiz - happy and frightened at the same time after Beam Qualif

Amelia Racea - preparing for Uneven Bars


Why was TopGym a success for the Romanians

At last week's meeting, Romania was represented by Adela Florea (borne in 2000) and Madalina Blendea (1999). They finished the all around competition 14th and 24th respectively (having very low uneven bars D scores: under 3.0) but they impressed me and many others.
The reasons: great beam skills, nice height on floor and vault, espacially Madalina Blendea is pretty artistic for such a young gymnast.
But I liked the most is what they did on their weak event: the uneven bars. Of course they don't shine - they have form breaks and all- but the good news is that there are Romanian gymnasts that are learning release moves from 10! Both Madalina and Adela presented a Gienger release and none of them missed it. 

the eleven year old Madalina Blendea

via GymExaminer

She is so polished and elegant (and born in 1999). I love her!


Sandra Izbasa speaks about 2010 Worlds and her future

I would be unfair if I said that (2010 Worlds were disappointing). After the injury I had, I can state that this was a successful return. God basically gave me a second chance to do gymnastics and I took advantage of it. Three months before the Worlds I didn't even think I will be in the team.
Asked if she was upset she didn't win a medal on floor she answered that her sadness comes from the fact that that medal she could have won went to another country and not to Romania.
I'm twenty years old and I think it's an age at which gymnasts should not consider retirement. We have just finished our warm-up for performance. At this age our mentality changes, we are not just children that act like little robots. The relationship between coaches and athletes is of collaboration. They understand us and completely support us and we must act like professional athletes.

the interview was published in Libertatea

Worlds 2010 gymnastics montages

one from 21najafast
or watch here 

and the other from pikedjaeger
or watch here

Both of them are really nice. Everybody has a thing for Rebecca Bross' beam fall; it's one of those images that stay with you for a long time.


Best Romanians on Uneven Bars (based on the number of Olympic and World medals)

They say that Romanians are weak on Uneven Bars but since Nadia's Olympic gold in 1976, there have been some quite ok if  not great bars workers  representing this country. I have put together a table of  the most decorated. Unfortunately, it is quite obvious from this table that they become rarer and rarer, if we look at the frequency of world medals in the past 20 years  (one medal every 7-9 years)

  1. Daniela Silivas 3 gold (1987, 1988, 1989) 
or watch here

  2. Emilia Eberle 2 bronze one silver (1978, 1979, 1980) 
or watch it here

  3. Nadia Comaneci one gold (1976) 
or here

  3. Lavinia Milosovici one gold (1992)
or here

  4. TeodoraUngureanu one silver (1976)
or here

  4. Ecaterina Szabo one silver (1983) 
or here

  4. Lavinia Agache one silver (1983 - tie with Szabo) 
or here

  4. Oana Petrovschi one silver (2002) 
or here

  5. Melita Ruhn one bronze (1980)
or here

  5. Mirela Pasca one bronze (1992)
or watch here

  5. Andreea Cacovean one bronze (1993) 
or here

  5. Ana Porgras one bronze (2009)
or watch here 
  My top three would have to be -on 1st Comaneci and Silivas  and on 3rd Teodora Ungureanu or Oana Petrovschi. What are your favorite Romanians on uneven bars?


10 years after Sydney... Andreea Raducan's book

I do think she has something to say... I will definitely buy it.

It was requested by the people that love gymnastics, by the ones that in 2000 gathered in the streets to support me. It's a sign of appreciation and a way of thanking them. It's a nice story about life, about gymnastics, that mostly happened because of what happened in Sydney because otherwise I would have been just a gymnast with a nice career.

(I wrote this  book) because I do have a bit of experience in the media, I have a master's degree in journalism but also because this year marked the 10th aniversary of Sydney Olympics. I remember that immediately after many journalists were asking where do I see myself in 10 years. Some of the things I said then happened, others are about to happen so this is kind of an answer to that question as well.

There are also many funny moments, for instance the one after the team finals in Ghent, when we thought that we should celebrate winning the world title and ordered Room Service after the lights had to go off. Imagine some kids, in the middle of the night begging the waiter to take their money so that the order doesn't show on the check for the coaches to see. Then how we tried to take the tray trolley out of the room and what happened when Mrs. Bitang found out.

The book will hopefully be published next month.These days, we will solve the problem with the publishing house, then with all the photos that will be published because the most important moments in each chapter will  be illustrated.

Andreea wrote this book thinking of her father who passed away a few years ago. "we promissed each other many thing but unfortunately we didn't manage to do everything."


Cati Szabo's years of suffering

About a month ago, while we were too concentrated on the 2010 Worlds, GSP has published a "super reportage" about Ecaterina Szabo, the 1984 Olympics gold medallist.

A short interview:
Cati, what was the thing that most marked you as a gymnast?
The hunger! I can say that I truly learnt what suffering from hunger means. If I had to name the most difficult to bare thing from the period when I was an elite athlete, that would be the diet. You must be tough in order to overcome this.

But you were still managing to run away to find sweets...
It was very difficult because we were permanently watched but I remember a cute episode that happened in Moscow, i was with Daniela Silivas. After the contest we went to the tribune and started to beg for money: "Please, one rubla". Anything was good, not just money.

I imagine that you were as well among the ones that were severely punished by Bela Karoly...
I am the type that does not like to live through the memories of 30 years ago. I turned the page and moved on. But I do not regret anything that happened! Emilia Eberle called me last year to ask me if I will tell what I endured from Karoly. She spoke, that is her business! I think it does not make sense to put myself against Bela! I now live another part of my life's story and it did not make sense to go back in time.

But didn't you remain with certain frustrations from the bad treatments?
You know what? We were just kids. Drones! We didn't really care about what was around us. We only knew this: contests, trainings, rest and diet.

What victories do you consider the best?
The ones from the Olympics but also the ones from the '83 Worlds. It was the only competition abroad when a part of my family was with me: my mother, brother and grandmother. I am still surprised that they let them come in Hungary.

Cati's present suffering

She suffers from a rare form of hernia and she had a spine surgery which kept her in bed for 4 months. Cati, now 42, lives in France, in Chamalieres with her husband and two sons: 7 years old Zeno and 14 years old Lorenzo. Now, she can do regular household activities only after her daily dose of morphine.
Szabo, who has spinal disc herniation on four vertebrae, underwent a first surgery on March 30, 2010 but the problems have not ceased to exist. "The first sign was on May 16, 2008. Zeno and I had come back from shopping and I wanted to pick up some bags and water bottles. I made two steps and I got stuck. I don't know how I got house. Then, when the crises began, it was very painful. I could no longer breathe, my right leg has almost paralysed, i could not feel my toes. For three or four months I stayed in bed, I had infiltrations.

Consequences of the effort done as an athlete? "I don't think so. Maybe it just made the disease worse, in time. The doctors told me that they have seen people who have never done sports and have the same problems. Just that mine is a more atypical hernia. The truth is, however, that, when I was an athlete, I had never an X-ray done to know that there might be such a problem. "

After the surgery, she has gone through dramatic moments: "I was like a baby. My husband, Cris, and the boys helped me go to the toilet! They fed me, dressed me, brushed my hair,  washed me. Now I am more active, but nobody told me if I would ever recover completely. For the moment, without a daily dose of morphine, I can't get started! I have fierce leg pains because the nerve from my back that has branches to the legs is strangled and this causes many problems. It is very difficult!"

Interesting facts:

Born in Zagon, Covasna, Szabo did not know a word in Romanian when she was sent to Onesti in the first grade: "I found myself among strangers and did not understand anything. I only knew to raise the hand in the classroom when I needed to go to the toilet. Luckily, my sister, ten years older, was also there and helped me to fit in "
The former gymnast's true name is Katalin Szabo, but the communists wanted to change her identity to hide the Hungarian origin.I woke up one day with the name changed in my password: Ecaterina Szabo. I do not know now who has made this change. But I heard more people inside the federation: "Look this "bozgoroaica" is coming with us again".
You can read the entire article here.

some nice pictures

Source: OK! Magazine

There is also a small article, you can find everything here.

best picture of the week

Irina Paun and some girls from Russia that also won medals in Marseille

Source: Irina Paun's Facebook page


Check this out

My article about "Bellu's Strategy" in on


Translation of "The Medal Factory"

For those of you who don't speak Romanian I tried to translate as much as I could of the "Medal Factory" show.
The show that aired on Digi Sport on Saturday November 13th, had as guests Mariana Bitang, Octavian Bellu, Andreea Raducan, the Romanian Olympic team, the six juniors that are in the special program of preparation for the Olympics and the coaches from the Senior and Junior teams.
the Olympic team: Dana Andrei, Amelia Racea, Raluca Haidu, Larisa Iordache, Cerasela Patrascu, Gabriela Dragoi, Diana Trenca, Diana Chelaru, Ana Porgras, Anamaria Tamirjan, Sandra Izbasa (not present).
Juniors: Georgiana Gheorghe, Maria Balea, Andreea Tufa, Diana Rusu, Madalina Neagu, Beatrice Margarit, Diana Bulimar (not present)
The coaches: Lucian Sandu, Marius Vintila, Florin Cotitiu, Liliana Cosma (not present) and for the juniors Lacramioara Filip Moldovan and Cristian Moldovan.
Romanian National Team (before the Worlds)

These are bits of conversations that i managed to translate. I had to make a bit of a selection because the entire show lasted for 45 minutes and the transcript of the entire thing would have been a much too difficult task for a Sunday afternoon:
Mariana: “Let’s ask Anamaria Tamarjan what made her comeback.”
Anamaria: “I realised that I hadn’t done enough in gymnastics”
Mariana: “Bravo Ana! I am glad she has this mentality: she is an European Champion, has an Olympic medal, nevertheless she considers she has not done enough in this sport and I am conviced she will do more.”
Trying to talk to the gymnasts… First up Maria Balea:
“Why did you start gymnastics?”
“Because I liked it (…) I want to become a champion”
Bitang: “Maria is nervous… Let’s ask Larisa
“I want to go to the Olympics and get all the gold medals”
Bitang: “Larisa, not all of them, let’s leave some for the others”
Larisa: “I want to do something well, not to regret that I didn’t work and I didn’t do what I had to in order to be up there.”
Mariana: “Good, I am sure you will get those Olympic medals”
the Junior team - Silver medal winners at 2010 Euros

What about you, Pitic?
Bellu: (jockingly) you will have to adjust her voice whe you edit this she has a funny voice.
Haidu: “I want to go to the Olympics and win gold, help the team. I will work a lot to get there.”
Host: “Ana, how do you see this winner’s mentality? Mr. Bellu said earlier and Mrs. Bitang as well, that the silver and bronze medals do not count.”
Ana: “I think that the most important medal is the gold, because winning it means that you are the best. Silver and bronze are on the side.”
Bellu: “And they don’t even play your anthem.”
Host: “This is one of your favorites, right?”
Bellu: (smiling) “We don’t have to exaggerate either, because behind a bronze medal there’s a fantastic amount of work and you can pass quickly because of things that depend on youself or on the circumstances from being a gold medal favorite to bronze medal winner. So I say that at the Worlds, Europeans and Olympics, any medal is valuable”
Bitang: “But we’d rather have the gold one.”
Bellu: “Yes, because there are also other benefits after you win it. I am glad they have the jeweler’s inclination. I must also warn Iordache and Haidu that they don’t accept ties at the Olympics, so they will have to fight each other for gold… Only at the Worlds they can both have gold (laughing with Bitang).”
Host: “We slowly come to talk about the future, about London Olympics but also next year’s Worlds in Tokyo. What should we expect?”
Bellu: “I have always tried to avoid making predictions because this is not agriculture, we can't predict anything in a situation in which the circumstances are always changing (…) The perspective depends on the way in which the gymnasts will be responsible, give it all to work and be careful not to have gaps in preparation any more, to add new elements and increase difficulty and once 75% of these are covered, the shape in which you are at that one competition, then the circumstances can be favorable or not, but you must be prepared for anything and to be able to solve whatever is up to you: clean execution, good landings etc.”

Host: “Do we have enough time to catch Russia and the other teams?”
Bellu “Yes, we do have time but it depends how you use it because if you can’t accumulate quickly you can’t remain at the stage of learning the elements one week before the leaving for the Worlds. At one point you must stop and work to stabilize the new elements and combinations.” …”But the difference at the Worlds was obvious and I even saw statistics, the difference was not between our execution marks but our difficulty.”
Bitang: “If we think about it and it was obvious at the past Worlds, the difference used to be of around 10 points now the gap was smaller, 3 points, less than 3 poins. But now it depends on every gymnast because every technician will think the routine according to the gymnasts real and maximum abilities, but then again, only the gymnasts are responsible of how they address the preparation (…) if they really want to get those medals they must upgrade their value, their difficulty in a short period of time. I want to highlight that after the Worlds, most of the people are having a few days off, a recovery break. Given that they unfortunately had such long periods of recovery after injuries, we considered that it’s best to remain in the gym, because they were in a good physical shape after the worlds and learn new skills. This can already be seen, we can see a speed-up in the assimilation of new and very difficult elements, and I hope we will be able to keep this pace even if there will be smoother periods coming, because only now they can learn, now, for one more month or two because then they will have to start repeating whole routines two months before the Europeans - that are scheduled in the beginning of April”

Host: "How did the girls seem when they came back from London? Did they seem more confident, eager?"
Mariana: “During the first two trainings they were enthusiastic and worked perfectly.. if only the contests had been then… I mean they obviously wanted it more.(…)”
Bellu ”The main idea is the continuity. Now this increase of difficulty happened precisely when they say there is a downfall, also in the specialised literature you will find that there will be a general fall after an important contest.. for these gymnasts this fall did not exist and we are glad."
Host: "Were you surprised by this and by the girls’ attitude."
Bitang: “mmm… No, we can’t be surprised anymore, but I think they were surprised, let’s ask them. We had all sorts of experiences so let’s ask the gymnasts. Were you surprised?”
Ana Porgras: “Yes!”
Andreea Raducan: “Gymnastics seems to be different now. When I was a gymnast, we never heard of vacation after the Worlds or Olympics. We just prayed that the five free days to come for Christmas”
Bitang: “See? Nothing is new. This is how we built the results in the past. After a contest ends you don’t stand”… “But Ana tell us more.”
Ana Porgras: "Yes, in the past, we had an easier period after the competitions but now we came back, started training new elements and I was surprised."
Bitang: “And you were surprised: wow! I can do a double twisting Yurchenko!”

Bitang “In London 2012 I want the surprise to be the team. I want them to learn to be a team because they spend more time here than with their own families and I want a REAL team spirit to develop and for them to understand that the more good gymnasts we have, the better the team will be and they must support each other in difficult moments, you must help your mate to get over the difficult time not to encourage her to remain there, I hope they will learn to be united in positive things. (…) I hope they will become one, being a team leader means more than having the best results. You must be a role model for the team mates and everybody else.”(…) "I remember that Andreea Raducan in Ghent in 2001, she was like the vuvuzela, you could hear only her voice in the hall. She had learnt all my indications for all the gymnasts on all apparatuses and she was coaching them even if she had to compete next she was shouting continuously, we need such children in a team”.
Again, you can watch the entire show on eamyy's youtube channel.