A Word on Romania

7 min read
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Versiunea in limba romana.

With every international, friendly, European, smaller, or larger competition, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the big problem of the Romanian system is not the gymnasts, the parents or the lack of money.

The senior Romanian team finished the qualification competition at the 2018 Europeans, on the 12th place.

Like in the past 3-4 years, after a missed meet, the gymnasts were brought in front, at the national television, remorseful and in tears to take responsibility for the falls, the emotions, “we do not know what happened, we train much better than this “. Followed by raised shoulders and explanations that 1) the selection base is very narrow 2) that gymnasts are not talented 3) that gymnasts do not have a competitive spirit 4) the gymnasts are not working as hard as other generations.

I do not deny that the selection base is tight but if we look at what happened yesterday, in 2017 and in the previous quadrennium, there are plenty of successful teams that have very limited selection bases for top level. The Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary are smaller or as small as Romania; they qualified yesterday for the finals and won medals at the European and World Championships in 2017;

But I disagree that the gymnasts are not talented. I will give some examples and I do not want those to be interpreted as underestimating the talent or work of one or the other, that anyone is less deserving depending on their coaches or their country’s tradition in gymnastics. Everyone has the scores and rankings according to the effort, support surrounding them, talent, etc.

Let’s take Laura Iacob who had a few misses yesterday, a gymnast with a very good potential on all the events, especially the uneven bars and beam. How does she compare in talent with gymnasts such as Maellyse Brassart who qualified for the final on beam or Nora Feher of Hungary who supported her team with 12+ scores on beam and bars. Or take Carmen Ghiciuc, another gymnast with falls on beam and bars, and look at the final-worthy performances of Juliette Bossu  for bars or Nina Derwael for beam. I do not think there is a difference in physical abilities among these girls. Their desire to do gymnastics is not any different. Please contradict me if you disagree.

Motivation is learned, but not with shallow ambitions. We keep hearing that “we invented gymnastics”, “we taught others”, “gymnastics is in the blood”, and so on. Nothing more damaging. Maybe for the gymnast that placebo of thinking that gymnastics is in your blood, can give you 1% extra push to stay at Deva and think anything is possible. But as a coach, to think that top level gymnastics “comes” to you just because you are employed at Deva or Onesti or Constanta is really catastrophic.

Motivation comes with a personalized training plan adapted to the current conditions. Was Ocolisan injured during podium training and cannot compete? Then communicate, clearly for everyone to understand “We had a 30% chance of qualifying, we are now left with less than 5% chance. Fight for the events where you want / can qualify for a final.”

Wouldn’t it be great if the gymnasts knew what is her individual plan to reach Tokyo, what apparatus, what elements. For example, Nica Ivanus is very good at beam and can not be used by the team on uneven bars. Denisa Golgota has a world-class acro on floor but she loses lots of tenths on choreography.

Under the current conditions it is impossible to achieve a top level, with the current human and material resources, as long as we do not understand who we are and what we can do.

From what I have seen in recent years, we “plan” from today until the next big competition – the Europeans 2018 came, we trained until we broke our limbs and we were left with 4 gymnasts who did what they could. At the end of Euros we remember the Doha Worlds. The same story. When those are over, we take a little break for Christmas. In February we remember that individual Europeans come in spring 2019. We send gymnasts to a few competitions, the 2-3 gymnasts who do not break anything in the process, get to Europeans. After Europeans we are reminded we should concern ourselves with the team issue. We send them to a friendly match or two, they do what they know, basically the same exercises from when they were juniors + – a Shaposhnikova on uneven bars. The ones that survive the process are in the team. We again fail to qualify to the Olympics.

What’s wrong with this image: We do not take into account the individual development potential of each gymnast, we do not think about the team’s format (what gymnast, on what event, will bring the scores) until the very last minute. And what’s more important, this way of doing things does not take into account what would be a good result in the current landscape of artistic gymnastics at a world level.

(Top tip for anyone interested, there are great private resources for all these statistics, a good start is the monthly list of teams published by Balance Beam Situation https://balancebeamsituation.com/2018/08/01/national-team-rankings- August 2018. Romania has the potential of 17th place in the world at the moment.)

This should be the norm:

  1. with whom do we compare;
  2. how can we earn points;
  3. if we are 15-20th place at the moment as a team, what should be our goals at the next world championship?


Are the gymnasts not working hard? The professionalism of the gymnasts reflects the professionalism and dedication of the coaches. This is the case anywhere you go (workplace, sports, art, etc.). Working hard, commanding respect, being demanding and strict. Respect does not mean “What are you doing miss Ghiciuc / Gheorghisor / Raducan” in a sarcastic tone.

Being strict does not mean to kick or hit or throw (gymnasts, chairs, mobile phones). When you’re dealing with teenagers you do not have to lose your mind if someone rolls their eyes (but you can tell them that you can see them).

Being strict with those you are guiding equals being extremely demanding with yourself. Clean, impeccable conduct (no alcohol, no drugs, if you live in centralized accommodation, too bad, never around gymnasts, not only at practice).

Being knowledgeable of what’s happening around the world. Learning constantly. Being humble and not full of yourself. Showing you don’t think you are the best at everything.

Be trainable. I go back to my “favorite” phrase: we thought others gymnastics. That has no value except for when the outsiders say it. Someone can say that to remind you that it is possible, that it was and it will be possible. When you are not a simple employee but a coach who wants and thinks she can train teams and gymnasts who win medals, you look around and want to learn from those who are doing it today. If you say, “we taught others” you live with the illusion that you know best when the reality of the competition demonstrates the opposite every time.

I have no knowledge from the inside, it’s possible that I am wrong here and there. When I gave examples of behavior I did not refer to anyone in particular. I hope they will not be interpreted as a personal attacks regarding anyone. And if there is someone who does not agree with me, or who knows that things are different, please write to us in the comments, to give us hope that it is not so bad. I’ve been trying to expose things as they look from the outside.  Others in other countries have their challenges. But these are some that seem to sink Romania lower and lower.

Maybe there will be more happy events in Romanian gymnastics. Maybe Gogota, a huge talent (if he does not burn too fast) will qualify individually in Tokyo. Maybe Lisa Marchidanu or Daniela Trica will win medals one day. But until then, Dear Federation, Dear Andreea, we need a new program: Country, Country, we want Coaches!

Article: Bea Gheorghisor

Photo Cover: Nadia Boyce

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