The World Championships Situation for Romania

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Diana Bulimar

In 1976, Romania’s Nadia Comaneci became a household name after her iconic, gold medal winning performances at the Olympic Games, thrusting women’s artistic gymnastics into the spotlight, setting the standard of athleticism and perfection, and transforming the sport forever.

With legends like Amanar, Silivas, Gogean, and so many more, 24 Olympic gold medals, and team medals in every summer Olympics since 1976, and the record for most consecutive world championship titles (5 in a row and 7 total from 1994-2001) there has been no shortage of success in Romanian gymnastics. When we think about Romania, we think about a classic style of gymnastics perfectly paired with power and innovation.

But now, in 2014, the situation in Romania is looking especially dire, and with programs like Great Britain getting stronger every year, is Romania going to be nudged out of the “Big Four”? Are we about to witness the end of an era, or will Romania pull it together?

In May, a team comprised of Diana Bulimar, Larisa Iordache, Andreea Munteanu, Stefania Stanila, and Silvia Zarzu won the team title at Euros with a 2 point lead over Great Britain, and a 3 point lead over Russia. Iordache won bronze on vault, silver on beam, tied for the gold on floor, and was all-around champion. As team Romania set their eyes on the World Championships in October (and hopefully towards winning their first Worlds team medal since 2007), they went to Sweden for a training camp. Junior Laura Jurca joined the seniors, as she was selected to be Romania’s representative at the Youth Olympic Games, held this weekend in Nanjing, China.

With new skills and new choreography in the works, things were looking pretty good for Romania, until just a couple weeks ago, when Bulimar suffered a knee injury that will prevent her from competing at Romanian Nationals (beginning August 29) as well as at Worlds. Now that she’s out, the young Iordache – the baby of the team just two years ago – will have to carry a heavy load as team leader as Romania will struggle to fill the holes on bars, beam, and floor left by Bulimar’s absence.

A weakened Romanian team might open the door for Great Britain, whose program has been making tremendous improvements and capturing the attention (and the hearts) of gymnastics fans worldwide. Team GB was a whole 3 points stronger than Romania on uneven bars during team finals at Euros, and that was with Bulimar’s 14.133, Romania’s top bar score. Bulimar also contributed Romania’s second best beam and floor scores. Additionally, Great Britain is coming off of a stellar Commonwealth Games, where both England and Wales won team medals in addition to snagging eight of the fifteen available individual medals.

Of course, the bulk of Romania’s program’s depth now lies in the junior pool, so it’s likely a temporary hole they’ll be able to climb out of as quickly as they fell in. But this year, unless Iordache and her young teammates can step up to the plate and rise to the challenge of making up for Bulimar’s absence, team Romania might be left in the dust.

Article by Sarah Chrane

8 thoughts on “The World Championships Situation for Romania

  1. Yeah, Didi is definitely a big loss to Romania this year, but I don’t think GB will edge them out at this Worlds still.
    (1) GB pretty much topped out scoring at Euros this year, realistically there was no team than that which could have scored better, where they were still behind Romania by 2 points,
    (2) Didi probably doesn’t score 2 points higher than if she was replaced by a variety of replacements across the three events – they can get another DTY up and scrounge up another BB/FX worker, but they’ll probably lose a bit on bars since Didi had decent D scores and was as clean as you could hope for,
    (3) GB will probably not have Tunney, who would bring in a big bars score, a DTY and a backup floor routine, and not sure if Downie is going to go for FX/VT because she sat those out for Commonwealths due to ankle issues. So realistically GB isn’t going to hit their Euros high again, and Romania probably isn’t going to lose as much as all that by clever replacements.

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  2. This worlds should be extremely interesting – I do include GB for a possible podium finish, although they will have to capitalize on some mistakes. Romania took that title due to their great execution, for which Bulimar was absolutely critical. Without her, there will be more pressure on Munteanu and Stanila, who have been inconsistent at smaller events this year, also in qualifications at Sofia, but managed to hit for TF in Sofia. I would never count Romania out, but at the same time I would not be surprised to see major mistakes from these two at least, which could allow China, Russia and even GB to displace Romania from the podium.

    In terms of GB’s chances, I had not heard the news regarding the loss of Tunney or Downie’s VT. It will be hard for them to recreate what they had at Sofia – but I hope they remain competitive come October. Any news on Gabby Jupp out there?

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  3. Kyla was the team baby two years ago as well, and I think she has grown beautifully into team leader. I think Iordache will have no problem stepping up to the challenge, although that is not a guarantee for medals. They will probably have to wait for more talent to mature, but it will be excellent experience for Iordace to lead a team at a major international competition.

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  4. Yeah…Romania isn’t going to challenge until 2015-2016 which sucks!!! But they’re not completely screwed, assuming a healthy team of Iordache, Stanila, Munteanu, Ocolisan, Zarzu, and Tudorache (because that’s all they have). In an interview, Stanila said she upgraded so she could take Bulimar’s place and compete on all four events. So in the team final Iordache and Stanila will compete on all events, Munteanu on BB and FX, and Zarzu on VT. I’m not sure who they will use for a third bar routine, but we’ll see at Romanian Nationals if everyone has upgraded. I don’t know how much Tudorache and Ocolisan have improved.

    As far as the Big Four is concerned, it’s too early to start dismissing Romania. GB was still 2 points behind Romania at their best. Romania isn’t going to lose 2 points without Bulimar. Like I said, we need to wait 1-2 more years to truly dismiss them from the Big Four.

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    • You don’t dismiss someone from the big 4 because of a bad quad, otherwise Russia would’ve been long gone, not winning an Olympic gold in 12 years and not medalling at all in Beijing. but then they came back strong 2009-12, and that’s what the BIG 4 represents…long term success and stability. A country like Romania who has medaled in every Olympic team final and come away from EVERY Olympics with minimum one gold medal is allowed to have a moment of weakness even as other countries like GB, CAN, ITA and JAP are having a quad of circumstantial ‘greatness’. In GB’s case, they’re coming off a lot of Olympic funding and in a quad or two will be right where Australia is now. JAP and CAN are on the rise and I see more long term growth from them than from British WAG but I still think they’ll end up in the middle of the pack where Italy [and formerly Australia] has been for years, Well, ITA has ALWAYS been present in the top 8 for some time now so I can’t and won’t ever dismiss them; they are a huge threat at euro’s rather than World’s.

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  5. Zarzu and Stanila were good FX in the past and Bellu could certainly help them get better. Tudorache was sort of a bars standout of the Romanians as a junior (not huge though) so I guess she might fill in that gap. 5 up 4 count will hurt a lot, but they could surprise in finals. However, I think Bulimar might be the last blow that will give China/Russia (with Komova and potentially Paseka) the edge for bronze and silver.

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  6. I think this team lacks a little star power where it’s basically Larisa Iordache + supporting cast. Bulimar definitely adds something of her own to the team, so she’ll be missed at Worlds. However, I’m not about to predict anything regarding Romania’s chances or that Great Britain or Russia will benefit more from Romania’s loss. Anything can happen, so I reserve my judgement.

    I would like to see Andreea Munteanu rise to the occasion a little more, however. She’s been rather iffy and nervous so far this year despite showing enormous potential. I hope she’ll build up her confidence in due time because she’ll need to play a bigger role on the team in Bulimar’s absence.

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  7. Pingback: România la Campionatele Mondiale de gimnastică: sentimental prin istorie | Bialog

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