Larisa Iordache, the 19-year-old who has commanded the stage in Romania since her senior debut in 2012, once again stole the show in Bucharest, winning the gold all-around medal with a 60.9 in addition to adding titles on bars, beam, and floor.
In the first day of competition, Iordache showed near-perfection from start to finish. Her DTY vault was excellent, and on bars she nailed her stalder full to Maloney, Jaeger, Church to pak, van Leeuwen, and toe full to a stuck full in for a 14.9, absolutely massive for her and totally deserved, as some wild legs on occasion were her only issues.
Her beam brought in a humongous 15.6, as she had no problems with her bhs tuck full, roundoff layout, double turn, switch to switch half, front aerial to sissone, split jump to wolf jump, side somi, and triple full dismount, just hopped slightly to the side. It’s easily her best work on the apparatus, as she had nary a wobble. If she hits like this at worlds, she can be the champion for sure.
Iordache finished her day on floor with a piked full-in, a tucked full-in, a nicely-rotated quad turn, an excellent triple full, a double Y turn to illusion turn, and a double pike with a hop to finish. Her only real issue here was a bent leg on the illusion turn, and she brought in a 15.15 to seal her title win.
In event finals, Iordache looked equally good on all three apparatuses, performing all but vault, where she lacks a second set. With scores of 14.95 on bars, 15.625 on beam, and 15.2 on floor, she looks set and ready to bring home some major hardware in Glasgow.
If Iordache was the star of the show, it was Anamaria Ocolisan who wins the most-improved award. A member of last year’s worlds team, Ocolisan put up the performance of a lifetime in Bucharest to finish second with a 57.7.
Her DTY looks strong, and I was very impressed with her work on bars, where she added a 13.85 for very clean work on her van Leeuwen, giant half to Jaeger, pak salto, Maloney, bail to Ray, and full-in dismount, where her first flip is so open it basically looks laid out. Outside of Iordache, she is the best we’ve seen from Romania on bars in years, and while her difficulty isn’t the best, she’s so slow and steady, she really makes up for it with her attention to detail.
On beam, Ocolisan notched a 14.35 with a few bobbles, including after her front aerial (I believe also missing a connection out of it), full Y turn, and side somi, and she also had some form and connection issues with her switch to switch half, but she hit her layout series and double pike well. On floor, Ocolisan nailed her opening triple full, 2.5 to punch front tuck, double pike, and double tuck all with ease for another 14.35.
Her event finals performances were similar to her all-around, aside from a fall on bars leaving her in fifth there. She won the bronze on beam with a 14.25 and was fourth on floor with a 14.35.
Compared to last year, where her all-around scores hovered in the low 50s – her qualifications finish at worlds was 50.699 – this was an immensely strong showing and she should be incredibly proud of how far she’s come. She’s definitely set to be a leader at worlds this year.
Finally back from seemingly endless injuries, Diana Bulimar placed third here with a 57.25. On vault, she’s performing just an FTY, and while it was probably slightly over-scored at a 14.3, it was definitely a great effort. Her bars were a solid effort as well, earning a 13.5 for her shaposh, Ricna, clear hip full to Tkachev, bail to Ray, and double tuck dismount, which is valued only at a C, so it cut her start value down by five tenths.
Bulimar went on to kill it on beam and floor. Her beam featured clean work on her bhs layout, front aerial, side somi, switch leap, switch half, side aerial, sissone, split jump to wolf jump, switch side, full turn, and stuck double pike dismount. While she was a bit tentative and there were a few missed connections, her form was impeccable and she posted a 14.75 there. On floor, she opened with a big double layout before continuing with a solid piked full-in, double pike, and double tuck scooted back and out-of-bounds. Her impressive set earned a 14.7, making it a great day for the newly-recovered gymnast.
She opted to compete only on beam in finals instead of on floor as well, likely to save her knee. Her beam routine was just as impressive, going 14.7 with a 9.0 execution score to earn the silver medal behind Iordache.
In fourth place was 2015 European Games team member Silvia Zarzu with a 56.55. While her bars really limit her in the all-around, she performed a solid and aggressive set despite some form issues, capping it off with a full-in dismount with a slight hop for a 12.7. She nailed her DTY on vault, performed clean work on beam though showed a few minor wobbles there for a 14.35, and killed it on floor to post a 14.8 after hitting an impressive set that included a 1.5 through to triple full (just hopped around a tiny bit at the end), a 2.5 to punch front tuck, a double pike, and a double tuck.
In the event finals, Zarzu had some big wobbles and placed sixth with a 13.125, but she was second to Iordache on floor, winning the silver medal with a 14.475 for another strong set.
The junior Olivia Cimpian, who doesn’t turn 16 until 2017, placed fifth with a 56.25, showing an FTY for a 14.2, some lovely work and gorgeous lines on a relatively easy bars set for a 13.75, a 13.6 on beam after a slight lack of control and a fall on her bhs tuck full, and a 14.7 on floor, where she hit a piked full-in, a tucked full-in, a lovely double turn in attitude to full pirouette, a gorgeous triple full, and a double pike.
Ciimpian also had great success in event finals, averaging a 12.875 to win bronze on bars with two easy but clean sets, adding another bronze on bars with a 13.375 for a hit set there, and performing well on floor for a 14.275 to place fifth.
Rounding out the top six was first-year senior Laura Jurca, with a solid DTY for a 14.8, a hit bars set featuring a great Ricna and a near-stuck tucked full-in for a 13.45, a steady and clean beam set until a freak fall on a back tuck for a 13.75, and excellent work in her energetic floor routine for a 14.2. She finished with a 56.2 in the all-around, and went on to win bars silver with a 13.425 as well as floor bronze with a 14.4.
The combination of Iordache, Ocolisan, Bulimar, Zarzu, and Jurca makes for an excellent young worlds team, and if Catalina Ponor is healthy enough by late October, they seem to be on the road for a strong year. But should Ponor not be ready in time, the only other senior with the ability to make waves is Andreea Iridon. Though she hasn’t been consistent at all this year on bars, her prelims score of 13.75 was one of the best of the day, as she showed clean technique and a good swing throughout. She also had an excellent beam routine in prelims, posting a 14.65 for her work there. But once again, her consistency came into play in finals, as she managed just a 12.375 after a fall and messy work on bars, and she opted to not compete in the beam final.
Of the juniors to compete, I think we should all keep our eyes on Denisa Golgota, the 13-year-old who stole the show with excellent vaults and impressive acro. With a 55.15 in the all-around, she was one of the top junior finishers, and then also went on to win the vault title, averaging 14.188 for her powerful DTY – she has easily the best in the country outside of Iordache – and tucked tsuk full. Golgota also placed into the floor final, where she earned a 14.1, showcasing a tucked full-in, a double pike, a double full, and a double tuck. She’s a tiny and very serious-looking gymnast, and shows a ton of promise already.
In addition to the Romanians, some junior gymnasts from Belgium competed as guests at the meet, with Maellyse Brassart their top all-around finisher with a 51.05.
Full results from Romanian Championships are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins