On Romania: Reform or Inertia?

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Romanian gymnastics is alive, on paper, as demonstrated by today’s press release via the Romanian Gymnastics Federation website. The reports were handed to the federation and analyses were performed. Consequently, a need for improved organisation and more accountability were identified.

Adrian Stoica (President of the Romanian Federation): “We had an extremely cruel last period through what has befallen on our gymnastics, from many aspects. Sure, some mistakes – and perhaps not a few – were made and are our own, with direct repercussions on the overall results, errors which we want to avoid moving forward and for this reason (we have – edited) taken a number of decisions with regards to reorganising the teams and the relocation of the training and of the responsibilities, in the view of obtaining maximum value and highlighting the qualities of the (…) gymnasts that are in the current teams, eligible for Tokyo 2020 without forgetting, of course, the athletes that are at the top of their field.”

The Romanian National team moved to Izvorani in January 2011 (from Deva). Last December, the gymnasts were relocated to Bucharest. The decision announced today was to go back to Deva which was an easy and obvious choice for relocation. This was the national training center since the late ‘70s and is still the “home” for the junior team. The gymnasts born in 2001 and 2002, that will be making up the bulk of the team at the beginning of the new quad, are already training there.

But this brought the team under Nicolae Forminte  (Jr National coach since 2015). This will be a second stint for Forminte at the helm of the senior team (after the 2005- 2010 period). In May 2010, Forminte was replaced as team coordinator (and later resigned from his new position as a coach) after a seemingly endless string of injuries in the team and what was considered then, a disastrous placement at Euros (bronze medal).

Thus the senior and junior national team are now coached at Deva:

Head coach: Nicolae Forminte

Coaches: Liliana Cosma, Remus Nicolai, Daniela Nicolai, Florin Cotutiu, Adela Popa

Gymnasts: Olivia Cîmpean, Alesia Botnaru, Carmen Ghiciuc, Ioana Crișan, Carmen Glăvan, Denisa Florea, Alexandra Mihai, Andra Anghelescu, Beatrice Butunoi, Denisa Golgotă, Laura Iacob, Nica Ivănuș, Ariadna Stanciu, Laura Jurca, Dora Vulcan, Maria Holbură, Denisa Stanciu*, Camelia Anghel, Alexia Borăscu, Ioana Stănciulescu, Antonia Duță.

*moving from Bucharest to Deva

Olympic national junior training center (2020 hopefuls):

Head Coach: Raluca Bugner

Coaches: Ioana Grava, Florin Uzum, Ramona Micu, Marius Vintilă.

Gymnasts: Iulia Berar, Maria Pană, Diana Mandrea, Ana Maria Puiu, Ioana Oprea, Teodora Manolache, Coleen Tătaru, Silvia Sfiringu, Daniela Trică, Luiza Popa

The Federation was sensitive to the requests of their top athletes that refused to move to Deva (and likely to start training with new coaches): Larisa Iordache, Catalina Ponor and Anamaria Ocolisan have stated a desire to remain in Bucharest and the Federation is supporting it. No coaches are mentioned but the three have lately trained under Lacramioara and Cristi Moldovan and under Lucian Sandu respectively. Will there be any cameos from Bellu or Bitang? Fingers crossed.

The article also states in an unfortunate choice of words that the Federation “has given up the services” of a few gymnasts: Diana Bulimar, Andreea Ciurusniuc and Silvia Zarzu. They have been sent to train at their clubs. It is also mentioned that they are welcome to come back at any time. I chose to believe that those three been sent to mend their injuries or ponder on their future in gymnastics and that when they demonstrate that they can keep up with the “rigors” of constant training they will be able to go back. To Deva or Bucharest.

Nicolae Forminte also said words about homogeneity, uneven bars and referred to gymnasts as “elements”: “The new principles of organization respond to the unanimous desire to provide the gymnasts homogenous preparation with a homogenous training concept from a methodological and technical point of view, especially for the apparatus that suffers the most, the uneven bars. We have elements of perspective capable of meeting the rigors of an intense program, talents that show the possibility of rising in value.”

Cautious reluctance is my gut reaction. And not just because of the deja-vu sensation of the coaching staff and their pedagogical methods (or lack of thereof) which I have witnessed on many accounts, last time in April 2016.

These measures are meant to please everyone. The juniors stay at Deva, the top athletes get to choose where they train and even have the “support” of the Federation (hopefully that means salaries for the gymnasts and their coaches). Except for the relocation of the Onesti squad, there are no major disruptions. It sounds like the ones that raised their hands and opted to stay in the system were accommodated. Which is nice.

And also a political move that would maintain the support from all the right angles for current structure of the Federation.

Despite the wasted opportunity to actually start over, at least there is a framework for next year. Bucharest turned out not to be the ideal place for training. It was a good location, but without a dedicated gym in Bucharest  (which was requested by Belly and Bitang and even promised to them firmly after London 2012) or without access to education and medical care (in the nearby Izvorani), it was not a viable option for an entire national squad.

Many gymnasts are continuing after the disappointing past 12 months. Of course, Iordache and Ponor will be looking to represent Romania at 2017 Euros hosted on home turf (in Cluj Napoca) and are hungry for better results in the years to come. Diana Bulimar loves being an athlete and despite her frequent injuries, she is waiting to heal before taking any decisions regarding her career. Laura Jurca (who placed top 8 AA at the 2015 Worlds) is back and will be looking forward to continue towards a long and accomplished career. Holbura (who took Jurca’s role as an anchor for the team in 2016) can become a bad-ass beamer under Lili Cosma, so exciting times are ahead for her too.  Ocolisan, Vulcan, Stanciu are beautiful gymnasts and it’s great to see that they are giving the sport yet another chance. They have plenty of potential, but they desperately need to stay healthy for more than six months at a time.

If you also count the juniors (Crisan, Golgota, Iacob, Cimpian to name a small part of the team), then Romanian national team has the potential to rise back in the first echelon of gymnastics, in terms of difficulty and results, in the next quad.

But if the accountability is only on paper, if the main goal is to keep people pleased and dissipate any thought of a real change within the system, if the methods used are still the traditional ones (as seen in the “Secret of Deva” documentary), we need to prepare our stomachs for yet another wasted generation.



Article &Photo: Bea Gheorghisor

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