Flavius Koczi: Life is beautiful from the podium.

Flavius Koczi, 24, is the most constant Romanian gymnast. He has made the continental podium for the past 7 editions. He is looking forward to London 2012 after winning the European gold medal on vault at this year’s Montpellier European Championships.

When was the first time you felt you could not live without sport?

The same moment I also wanted to give it up, at about 16. I was at Bistriţa, with the Junior National team, and it was all a teen thing, all kids go through crisis like that. But I soon got over it.

The last time you considered retiring?

When I was 16, the moment I told you about.

The first time you understood your destiny was closely linked to gymnastics?

I never thought about this. Gymnastics chose me, I didn´t choose it. My parents brought me to the gym. I never believed I would go this far but you are not alone in the gym, you want to be like the older kids, make the Junior squad, then the Senior, then be the best, win a medal in a big competition…

The last time you cried over gymnastics?

I don´t usually cry. But it sometimes happens during training, when you are upset. I get as angry as everyone does when I can´t perform a skill well. I try it today, I try again tomorrow, a week and I still cannot do it. Expectations are high, you want to medal, you can´t go there thinking “it´s ok, we´ll throw something else”.

The first time you stepped into a gym?

I was 7, at Reşiţa, my parents took me to the gym. I didn´t know what it meant, I was a restless child. At first you play, that´s how they get you into it.

The last time you wanted not to be gymnast?

Never happened so far. I might not have wanted it if results didn´t show and I would have spent these 17-18 years working in vain. Not making it would have been hard.

The first time you went to Bucharest?

I was still with the Junior team, 14 years old and I came here for a medical check. I didn´t get anything out of that first visit. I kept whinning, I was afraid of the analytics. I got to the station, I took the metro, it was my first time on the metro…

The last time you thought life is beautiful?

At Europeans, when I won the medal. I always think about this when I am on the podium, I realize how lucky I am to not be injured, to finish the competition healthy and that all that hard work pays off.

The first thing you will do after the Olympic Games?

Ask my coaches for a long vacation. (laughs)

The last time you felt weak?

Hm, I often feel weak when I don´t reach my goals. There are competitions I set a goal for myself and I don´t reach that goal. Only then I wonder if I am too weak…

The first thing you will do after retirement?

At least for a short while, I would not want to follow a schedule. It´s tough for me to say this, but you get sick of it at a certain point.

The last time you went fishing?

Right before Euros.

The first time you won European gold?

In 2006, on pommel horse. It´s my favorite medal. It was my first Senior competiton, I wasn´t even expecting to be selected for it. I´m glad Mr. Grecu trusted me, not many would have dared to take a kid at such an important event, which included a team competiton and where any mistake counted. You know what they say, you never forget your first love.

The last time you prayed to win?

I always pray to win.

The first time you were called “the colt”

In 2006, when I won gold on pommel horse. Alin Jivan called me that, because I had won on horse and I was the smallest one in the team.

The last time you felt bad about something you said?

There are many, especially when I am upset, in the gym. There is where I say most of these things.

The first time you felt tired of Bucharest´s Sport Hotel?

I can´t blame the hotel for my gym problems. What I don´t like is leaving for competitions. We have to pack, clear the room, then we get another room and it´s a bit difficult.


10 medals at Europeans: 3 gold, 3 silver and 4 bronze

1 medal at Worlds: silver at London, in 2009

6 apparatus to perform on in London, with shots at a medal on floor and vault

25 years old on the 26th of August


Original interview by Mirela Basescu for Prosport here.