The most important gymnast in Romania’s history has stated that the failure of the Romanian women’s gymnastics team to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio should not surprise us since it is a consequence of lack of involvement in recent years.
“It’s very sad. I am so sorry that this happened, but, as I too have been saying for years, these unfortunate results are not an accident. We all knew and anticipated that we will end up here one day. Unfortunately, that moment has come and, after all these years, we will not have a full team at the Olympic competition. We no longer have coaches, and those we do have are paid very poorly, we no longer have athletes. In Romania, we have approximately 100 gymnasts, while in the United States there are around 4 million children doing gymnastics. We have some five or six gymnastics clubs. In the United States, there are 2,500 clubs. Unfortunately, sports in Romania has stagnated, hence the catastrophic results registered lately,” Nadia Comaneci stated for Q Magazine.
Simona Amanar, one of the most important gymnasts in Romania’s history, also analysed the problems in Romanian gymnastics, problems that led to the failure to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games.
“For me it wasn’t such a surprising result… Maybe more of a disappointing one, a result that reconfirmed for me the fact that at this moment the national gymnastics team and Romanian gymnastics are in a veritable crisis,” the champion stated in an interview for ziare.com.
Amanar considers that the main causes are “the lack of correlation between the Federation, the coaches and the clubs alike.”
“I believe we have to reform the system. The entire organisation has to be rethought. I believe the importance of clubs should grow, we should find solutions for coaches,” Simona Amanar stated.
Romanian Olympic Sports Committee (COSR) President Alin Petrache stated on Monday that the failure to qualify represents a disastrous result, pointing out that coaches Octavian Bellu and Mariana Bitang should have taken on obligations even though they were only volunteers at the national team.
“I believe the Federation should establish, starting yesterday when they failed to qualify, what we will do with the three athletes that will go to Rio – Dragulescu and the two ex officio. After which they should move on to a long-term project, which hasn’t been seen in Romanian sports for the past 26 years. I am talking about very many federations that have problems and shortcomings in training,” Petrache stated for news.ro.
Octavian Bellu, former coach of the Romanian women’s gymnastics team, with whom Romania won 279 medals, admitted that the team Romania sent to the pre-Olympic tournament had no chance.
“If a scapegoat is really needed, I’ll volunteer. Regardless of how you look at the situation, Bellu and Bitang are always the culprits. The result was predictable. These little girls who should have surpassed their limits went there injured, with older injuries, while others came from longer breaks. Catalina Ponor helped out as much as she could. I’ve been saying since 2000, since Atlanta, that things will go south. We were at the limit in Atlanta too. In 2012, in London, if it weren’t for Catalina and Sandra coming back, things would have fared just as worse,” Octavian Bellu stated for Mediafax.
“I have doubts about the girls that are selected for the team. My impression is that they do not want to have results, they do not like this sport. I can’t give advices. Now I’m outside the phenomenon. Alongside Mariana Bitang, I wanted to lend a hand, but there was no one to help. You can’t go on forever with little girls that are at the team just because they are of the right age. The Romanian school of gymnastics exists, but, unless something changes, things will get even worse. Let’s hope we learned something from this experience,” Octavian Bellu added.
Bela Karoly, legendary coach from the golden period of Romanian gymnastics, stated he was shocked when he found out the news that Romania failed to qualify for the Olympics.
“No, I can’t believe this!!! What do you mean Romania did not qualify for the Olympics?! No, it can’t be! It’s a disaster,” Karoly stated for ‘Gazeta Sporturilor’ daily.
“We have been training for several years a group of 25-30 young national team coaches that could replace us at any moment. (…) So when we retire, women’s gymnastics in the United States will have no problem. Continuity is ensured. It’s a model that maybe Romania should try too,” the coach, who lives in the U.S., added.