The first episode’s of Andreea Raducan’s ‘The Medal Factory’

Gymnastics goes face to face with Andreea Raducan

‘The Medal Factory’

What gymnastics means, the feelings of a gymnast who is far away from his family, the simple desires of a child who has chosen to dedicate his life to professional sport….well, in “ The Medal Factory” we will tell many stories, full of sensibility and sincerity.


Diana Chelaru: Work + sacrifices = success

Gymnastics is a beautiful, disciplined sport and the viewers must know that it can help you in the future, to climb a ladder that will take you up, to make sure that when you grow up you will have everything you need. The kids that step into the gym dream to be on the podium or to go the the Olympics.

Ana Porgras: So far, my favorite moment was when I stepped onto the podium at the Worlds, it was extraordinary.

Amelia Racea: The best moment was at the 2010 Euros when I won gold on beam.

Diana Chelaru: It’s a pleasure for me, there are days when you come into the gym, you learn new elements, you go out of the gym and say “Today, I´ve learned something new, I didn’t waste 3 hours for nothing”…to believe that you can truly be where you dream of being.

Ana Porgras: We train 5-6 hours a day, twice a day, I don´t think you can train less if you want to be at the highest level…

Sandra Izbasa: Gymnastics is an elegant sport, where you need harmony, you have to use your head, not only have talent.

Catalina Ponor: You definitely need consistency and ambition in everything you do, you have to think as if you were competing at every training, it has to be a competition for you, not only with yourself, even with your colleagues

Larisa Iordache: I want to have a good 2011, to be able to train and compete, to get used to this new situation and for 2012, I´d like to do much more so that I can impress

Ana Porgras: Now, gymnastics is my life, I´m doing this every single day. It is a very difficult sport, but it can give you a lot of satisfaction if you can maintain yourself at the highest level. I think it is wonderful to do gymnastics and have this kind of satisfaction. If you cannot get on that podium for Romania, you are missing something….you cannot say you´ve really done something with gymnastics.


Andreea Raducan: What does a gymnast need to become a champion?

Amelia Racea: Talent, hard work in the gym and a bit of luck.


Octavian Belu: There is no magic wand or formulas that can get you on the podium or towards that gold medal, it´s all about the hard work. There is a problem nowadays, they take monotony harder. If the girls from your generation could keep repeating elements during a larger period of time, could have high expectations from execution, for them this capability is lower. If it’s backed up by not being used to this, it can lead to less fortunate results. I believe they are slowly establishing their rhythm, they don´t want long breaks anymore; some were imposed by injuries but some were taken for less objective reasons. They will understand that they need to solve their consistency problem and then the results will start showing.


Andreea Raducan: We are at Izvorani right now. How is the training going?

Mariana Bitang: It’s pretty difficult, a time to learn, the planning does not always coincide with what’s going on in the gym, some of them are on schedule with their progress, others progress a little slower, the important thing is that they are all healthy and they are working. We hope to increase difficulty, to get to the Worlds in the best possible shape and to have the Olympic Games team already formed by then.

Octavian Belu: We have similar girls both in age and in preparation, but before the Olympics games begin, we hope to put together a unitary team which can battle it out with the other candidates to the medals, both in the team competition as well as in the individual one.


Andreea Raducan: The World Championships are getting closer, there are only a couple of months left to train, what are your expectations going into the competition?

Octavian Belu: This championship represents a mandatory stage, what I want is to clarify what is the team’s potential. This year we take into account a team without Larisa Iordache, but next year we will consider her as well. We can say that the core team was already seen in Rotterdam; with the Europeans, we take into account other gymnasts, but the Worlds will be a defining stage.


Sandra Izbasa: I wanted to retire after medalling at the Olympics, but I wondered if I could still win other medals and I kept motivating myself like this, maybe at the next competition I would win more medals or more valuable ones – I can win a lot of bronze and silvers, but I need gold. And this is how I found the motivation, I want to improve after every competition.


Andreea Raducan: Are you preparing anything new for the Worlds?

Ana Porgras: No, I think I will go on safety, I have to increase the difficulty as well because if not we won’t get where we want to be…but at Worlds I’m hoping to compete in the all-around and to have the strength to be on the podium.


Sandra Izbasa: What I love is the collaboration, you can really see we are a team.


Andreea Raducan: Catalina Ponor has made a surprising comeback, you also have Sandra Izbasa, an experienced gymnast who came back with very good results from the Euros, how important are they for the team? How much are they helping the other younger and less experienced gymnasts?

Mariana Bitang: Catalina’s comeback should be an example for the gymnasts in the team, I don’t know why there is a tendency in Romania to quit before you are 20, but I see that this is slowly changing. Sandra will be 21 this year and she is still doing gymnastics. It would be wonderful if they put to use all that they have learned during childhood during a larger period of time. At that time, your priorities are not really established, when you are an adult you acknowledge differently what you want and what you could do in a area where you have spent many years of your childhood already.


Andreea Raducan: Now that the Euros are behind you and you are getting ready for Worlds, where are you with the training and what are your expectations?

Sandra Izbasa: The training will become more intense, because we need a strong team and a good qualification for the Olympics. This is like a rehearsal for the Games, what I want is what I am missing….a gold medal at the Worlds, regardless if it’s on vault or floor.


Andreea Raducan: Your results as a gymnast are extraordinary, you have everything you wanted, what motivated you to come back to the gym?

Catalina Ponor: I spent 3 years at home and I never even thought I would ever step into the gym and start again. But then I saw the Worlds, I saw what they are doing now and the very next second they were over I was on the phone letting them know I was coming. I did not plan anything, it was all on the spot and I promised myself that once on this journey, I would go till the end no matter what happens.

Andreea Raducan: After 3 years in retirement, did you find gymnastics different from what you were used to? Did this make you go back?

Catalina Ponor: From what I could see on TV, the competition is really different from before, in 2004 we fought hard for every tenth of a point. It’s different, but we want to get back to the same level and to compete the same way we used to back then.

Catalina Ponor: I see my coaches as my friends, even as my parents. We are all a team and they always take care of us.


Andreea Raducan: Are you unhappy with this choice to come back, would you have rather done something else?

Mariana Bitang: I don’t know, this is a tough question. I asked myself but I haven’t found the answer, so here I am again in the gym. I think this is the type of job you do with a lot of passion, and passion is like a drug, once in your body you cannot get rid of it. There are a lot of sacrifices and the ones made by adults have many more consequences than the ones made by the kids during their time in training. I can only mention a few: the isolation in a certain location because, unfortunately, in Romania we don’t have the kind of gym we need everywhere; being far away from your family can lead to problems and your kids are taken care of by other people because you are busy taking care of other people’s children at the same time. And you don’t always get the recognition for all these sacrifices and efforts you’ve put in.

Andreea Raducan: Many coaches have left Romania, both of you have also had offers to train the Chinese team, why did you choose to stay?

Mariana Bitang: China was only a different location, but there were many offers. If you ask me why not China, I’ll have to say because of the language barrier, it would have been very difficult to be able to communicate. You know very well that you only have fractions of a second in the gym to communicate with your gymnast during the execution and it would have been very difficult to learn Chinese or to ask the gymnasts to learn a common language, like English. This would have been an obstacle, let’s not mention using translation. We thought about this, especially in the difficult moments, when we wanted to be left alone and this was not granted, we were tempted to do it…but as long as we had the fortune – or misfortune – to be born in Romania and to start something here, we decided to stay.


Octavian Belu: If you had only been an Olympic Champion, people would have forgotten you in a week, but after that well known moment and everything that happened afterward, you not only stayed in the memory of those who love gymnastics, but also of those who saw the sport as a victim of a questionable system. I sadly remember those Olympics had “Tolerance 0” as a motto and I’ve always felt that if those games had 0 tolerance, the all the previous games had a higher tolerance…