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Octavian Bellu on the future of the gymnastics team and his responsibilities as National Sports Council coordinator.

After the London Olympics Games, Octavian Bellu and Mariana Bitang stated they would stay with the team but that, for them to continue, some requirements had to be met, starting with the training facilities.

Photo: Bogdan Iordache / Mediafax

A reorganization is needed following the Olympic Games.

“For us to keep training this team and to be able to offer the girls the best conditions, we need a training facility in Bucharest. This is not just something we want – remember Mariana and I spent 25 years in a Deva dorm, we only cared about gymnastics and nothing else. We could keep training in Izvorani but there are other coaches who have kids, a social life etc. You cannot have school there and the girls didn´t pass their exams. We tried to do some schooling there but it didn´t work out, you could see the results…”

Bellu also added the parents didn´t like this at all. The girls who will be joining the team and who will become seniors in one or two years will have another objective in mind, apart from gymnastics: school.

“Of course it´s difficult, we are talking about the distance and isolation. Apart from that, we don´t have doctors or a medical clinic. We have to go to Bucharest urgently if something happens. The gym in Izvorani is good for a specific training stage but not for continuous training. I know how it is, we spent 2 years there and we had our share of bad experiences. Last winter, we were stuck on the road to Bucharest for 7 hours, together with one of the gymnasts. We had to go back to Izvorani but other people stayed there for almost 24 hours. We have been carrying blankets, food and water in the car ever since.”

The National team´s coordinator is hoping all the problems will be solved.

“There are promises and there are some options in Bucharest. Everyone wants to help and we are hoping one of the options is finalized. I can´t give a deadline for this but it´s clear that we can continue like this for two to five months, not more than that. On the other hand, any gym we would have in Bucharest would serve gymnastics. We could consider organizing a European Championship. We would still need some smaller gyms around but all the Bucharest clubs would benefit from that.”

Training started again in September but in less than 2 weeks the team moved to Bucharest to train at the Lia Manoliu Sports Complex.

“We have Bulimar, Iordache, Izbaşa, Andrei and Haidu already in training and Cătălina Ponor will join them soon. We are expecting some Juniors to come in for next year´s selection, we will watch them at Nationals…There are a couple of steps we need to take. There are around 30 kids for the next Olympic cicle and we´ll probably be left with 5 to 7 girls before the Rio Games, supposing they will all be healthy and won´t be facing problems throughout these years. There is a lot of work involved in reaching a 4 year objective. If we look at the London Games, we counted on scores from a 22 and a 25 yeald old. Of course we were happy to have them, but will they make it to 2016? It would be great, but it´s difficult to believe they will. You have a lot to consider when putting together a 4 year strategy. This is why we haven´t discussed or signed anything with the Olympic Committee. We have to build a good strategy and the best training conditions.”

Octavian Bellu clarified the gymnasts will not take part in World Cup events, but rather attend galas.

“The girls have started working on bars with grips, they have to get used to them, do their routines, make progress. We will not be attending big competitions, only galas. Sandra Izbaşa will be in Belgium, Holland and France, and so will Larisa Iordache and Cătălina Ponor. We don´t want to go to competitions just to be there, it´s useless in this period of time.”

Octavian Bellu has been involved in a different activity, as coordinator, for more than a month.

“We are talking about the National Sports Council. This is already in place, there are meetings and we are trying to solve as many problems as possible, there is no point in meeting just to socialize. All of us have other responsibilities elsewhere but, at the same time, we dedicate our time to this. This is a complex structure but there aren´t many people involved. The board has 5 members with 6 others forming the extended committee. There are around 7 commissions overall looking at the strategy, infrastructure, judicial requirements, priorities. It´s a flexible structure meant to establish medium and long term strategies and offfer financial recommendations and consulting. The Federations will be represented here and we have already split the sports into Olympic, non-Olympic, indoor, outdoor, sport for all etc. This Council existed before but it wasn´t working. It´s easy to put everything on paper, but when you go out there it becomes difficult.”

He referred to one of the most important discussion topics for the Council at the moment.

“Reform is mandatory in sport. There will be happy news, but also not so pleasant ones. There is a need to change the law as soon as possible. I accepted the coordination of this structure after ANST offered it to me, but this position might be subject to elections in the future. We are trying to avoid getting political and work only with specialists in their field, from sport to the judicial area because we have to deal with branches and situations that require this. Take for example the infrastructure: we have counted all the facilities but it´s difficult, they are under different judicial systems.”

Bellu mentioned that all the national areas have to send their data on their facilities.

“Some of them have been abandoned, others were taken over by Town Halls and nothing was done with them and others are bringing in money to their Town Hall. Slowly, all the facilities will belong to the Town Halls, whether we like it or not. We have seen some problems as well, but if the law is respected, they cannot change the facilities´s assignments. We must move forward. The Govenment has not issued any statement on this Council yet, but we are already working on issues that do not require high level involvement. We do not know what will happen in 3 months time, if we will have a Sports Ministry or not. There will also be local changes, we don´t have all the answers now but we are working already and we are putting passion in what we are doing.”

Original interview by Mediafax here.