Izbaşa, looking forward to London: I cannot wait!

Sandra had to go through 2 other surgeries last year but says she will go till the end and get to her second Olympics.

She has experienced all possible emotions from the joy of the Olympic, World and European medals to the disappointment of failures and injuries but she is still anxious for the London Olympic Games. She is Sandra Izbasa, 22 in June, who has been in gymnastics for 18 years now and still finds motivation to keep going.

Sandra, are you healthy now? What was the problem with your foot after all?

I am fine now. The doctors didn´t know why the hematoma kept appearing either. In the end they said it was the strain, nothing to do with the 2009 surgery. After I had surgery again, it disappeared.

You had to have surgery again?

Yes, around September – October, on the left foot´s Achilles and the right leg. I am strictly following a program now and I hope everything will go well. With only 6 months to go till the Olympics I will hang on till the end. I am careful not to push it too much and we all hope everything will be ok.

So, when did you go back to full capacity training?

In December I started to follow the normal program again.

Anything new in your routines? Where are you with the difficulty?

Everything is new. Adding difficulty and working on the execution is normal if we want to do well in the next competitions. I won´t tell anything else because we want this to be a surprise.

Have you started training bars as well? Do you see yourself in the all-around?

My palms hurt, I just moisturize at night and I start again the next day. For the all-around, it all depends on how they will want to approach this.

How´s beam going?

I´m training to help the team. I am fighting for every apparatus.

Do you already have the floor music?

We are struggling to pick it for some time. It´s very difficult, everything must be perfect for the Olympics. It´s like with the clothes, you feel different when they are clean.

The European Championships are next, it would be nice to repeat the 2008 success when you won 2 gold medals and became Olympic Champion.

I will be at the Europeans if I am healthy. And maybe the Olympics will work out even better than in 2008, I always want to improve on that.

That means you want a shinier medal with the team and more gold medals in the individual finals…

The team will probably have to be sacrificed but I do hope to improve in the finals.

Did it frustrate you to have won 2 gold medals at the Europeans and then not be at the 2011 Worlds?

Of course it was hard, especially since I had improved a lot. But I was patient and told myself the Olympics are more important. I had gone though this before in 2009. I have nearly won it all, so it´s balanced. You have a World Championship every year, but you go to the Olympics once every 4.

Where do you find the strength to keep going after all the injuries?

I´ve learned this from my father: “With patience you go a long way.” I proved to myself once again how strong I am. I was not credited with a chance to make a comeback in 2009. Back then I went back to the gym but I didn´t take things seriously until Mr. Bellu and Mrs. Bitang returned to the team and told me I had potential.

What about fear? Does it stay with you after such an injury?

The mental pain was bigger than the physical one. There is always fear, it won´t go away but I am my own psychologist. It´s impossible for an injury like this not to leave scars.

Why couldn´t Ana Porgras fight through it for 6 more months?

I don´t know if I should comment on this subject. What I do know is that everyone tried to talk her into staying, we all did. They made her the most beautiful montages. I´m sorry she wasn´t motivated enough to stay.

What motivates Sandra Izbaşa, the Olympic and European champion, at this point?

I don´t even know anymore. I think I am still doing gymnastics for those around me, for the people I love.

And they are…

Oh, etc. etc. and so on.

Then what does Sandra Izbaşa dream about?

When I close my eyes I see the moment after the Olympics. I cannot wait, I dream everything will be perfect. I dream of the moments after.

Original interview by Roxana Fleșeru for Gazeta Sporturilor here.