Ponor Returns to Competition This Weekend


Three years after competing in her second Olympic Games, Catalina Ponor of Romania will make her comeback official when she competes in the Romania-France friendly competition this weekend.

Though Ponor announced her retirement after 2012, the rough competition at last year’s world championships opened a need for her talents, inspiring a return to the gym earlier in 2015. A new FIG license made things legit, and though she faced a minor setback on vault and floor when she experienced some knee pain last month, she is now on track to compete in Izvorani on Saturday.

Also making a return to the Romanian program are Larisa Iordache and Diana Bulimar, both of whom have spent the majority of this year sitting out due to injury. Iordache, who finished with the silver all-around medal at last year’s world championships, went on to dominate in the world cup circuit, posting huge scores for gold medals in both Glasgow and Stuttgart. Pain has limited her this year, so it’s unclear how she’ll look coming back or whether she’ll be able to perform on all four events.

Bulimar, meanwhile, was set for a big return after missing the majority of the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and she got off to a decent start with medals on bars and beam in Doha followed by a 10th place all-around finish at European Championships. Another knee injury derailed her progress, however, resulting in surgery this June. Coming back to competition just three months later could be risky, but she seems determined to finally contribute again to her program at a high level.

2014 worlds team members Andreea Munteanu, Ana Maria Ocolisan, and Silvia Zarzu join their teammates on Saturday alongside new senior Laura Jurca, who will make a run for her first worlds team this fall after performing inconsistently earlier in the year. Notably missing is fellow first-year senior Andreea Iridon, expected to be a big help on bars upon joining the senior ranks but falling short of expectations with subpar competitions on the event, hitting just one routine out of five and averaging a 12.8 internationally in 2015.

From the French camp, veteran Marine Brevet will lead a young team that includes 17-year-old beam and floor phenom Claire Martin, 16-year-old Louise Vanhille (who missed the majority of 2014 due to an elbow injury), and first-year seniors Camille Bahl, Grace Charpy, and Loan His, the 2015 national champion. This is likely to be the team we’ll see in Glasgow, with perhaps Valentine Pikul or Anne Kuhm part of the picture over Charpy, who will be looking to prove herself in Izvorani this weekend.

The friendly meet, held at the Izvorani Olympic Complex, will unfortunately be closed to the public due to a lack of facilities available to support big crowds, but we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for videos from the French and Romanian federations.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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