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Remember: 2001 Ghent World Championships

How about taking a walk down memory lane and remembering some of those amazing championships where the Romanian gymnasts shined? Luckily, there is a large number of those, so we’ll start a whole new series of articles on this topic…

First in line, my favorite World Championship ever: the 2001 Ghent edition! Here are some interesting characteristics of this particular championship: the first one in the Athens cycle, a first experience of the 3 up – 3 count format and of the new vaulting table and the last championship to allow 3 gymnasts from the same country to go into the All-Around final.

Andreea Răducan

Romania won its 5th consecutive – and last – World team gold and, most importantly, Andreea Răducan had her ”revenge” after the Sydney episode. On top of that, the championship opened with a performance by Romanian group AEROS (a gymnastics/dance group formed by the Romanian Aerobic National team who performed in theatres across the world)!

What else can a Romanian fan possibly wish for? Ok, here are a couple of other things…

Romania finished first in the medal standings taking home 6 gold and 3 bronze medals. And it was not all about the girls, as you might imagine… This time, they shared the spotlight with the men, who heavily contributed as well. It was an amazing time for Romanian gymnastics!

Andreea Răducan (CSS Bârlad) came back strong to prove a point and lead the Romanian team alongside Loredana Boboc – the other Sydney Olympic champion in the team. It was the first experience for Andreea Ulmeanu (CSS1 Timișoara), Sabina Cojocar (CSS Sibiu), Silvia Stroescu (Steaua Bucharest; the only gymnast in this team to make the 2004 Olympics) and Carmen Ionescu (Steaua Bucharest). Together, they won Romania’s 5th consecutive team title over Svetlana Khorkina’s Russia and Tasha Schwikert’s United States (and yes, it was still that time when Romania could win with poor UB anyway!). If there is any unforgetable moment of all their performances, it is Andreea’s floor routine, the very last performance of the day during team finals. Everyone already knew Romania had the gold medal in its pocket, but watching Andreea perform on floor was always something special – even the American team appreciated it! Watch…

Other than that, Romania dominated all apparatus except uneven bars, of course. Silvia Stroescu and Carmen Ionescu also shined on beam, where Sabina Cojocar was surprisingly left out despite having made the apparatus final. Here are the scores and links to the available routines:

Team Final

Vault

Uneven Bars

Beam

Floor

Andreea Răducan

9.425

8.525

9.675

9.562

Silvia Stroescu

.

8.762

9.400

.

Sabina Cojocar

9.339

8.587

.

9.175

Carmen Ionescu

.

.

9.387

.

Andreea Ulmeanu

9.237

.

.

9.075

Loredana Boboc

.

.

.

.

 Andreea was definitely the gymnast of the championship for Romania, taking home no less than 5 medals, 3 of them gold. Although she didn’t manage to get that All-around gold she was probably looking for, after placing third to Russia’s Khorkina and Zhiganshina, she won the beam and floor finals – her specialties. She showed great control, elegance, flexibility and difficulty on her favorite apparatus, beam, in the event final:

Sabina and Silvia (who had surpassed Răducan at that year’s National Championships, tying for the All-around title) joined Andreea in the All-around final, placing 6th and 11th, respectively. Obviously, the uneven bars performances didn’t help any of our girls…

All  Around Final

Vault

Uneven Bars

Beam

Floor

Andreea Răducan (3rd)

9.350

8.862

9.475

9.262

Sabina Cojocar (6th)

9.356

8.625

9.337

9.462

Silvia Stroescu (11th)

9.031

8.575

9.387

9.225

Event finals were an Andreea Răducan – Svetlana Khorkina affair, mainly since they shared all gold medals up for grabs and a couple of bronze medals as well (Svetlana won bars and vault and the bronze medal on floor). Would have really wanted Sabina to take home another medal on beam but a wobble on her aerial walkover pushed her to 4th place…

Ulmeanu and Stroescu completed the Romanian presence in the event finals.

Event Finals

Vault

Uneven Bars

Beam

Floor

Andreea Răducan

9.243 (3rd)

.

9.662 (1st)

9.550 (1st)

Silvia Stroescu

.

.

.

9.012 (7th)

Sabina Cojocar

.

.

9.475 (4th)

.

Andreea Ulmeanu

9.118 (5th)

.

.

.

There’s even a short interview with Andreea Răducan from the championship here (scroll down). And here’s Andreea gold medal winning floor routine in the event final (back to back titles for her on this apparatus since she had also won the event in Tianjin 1999).

Not many things have changed for Romanian gymnastics since 2001 (although Romania did not win gold at Worlds again until Ana Porgras in 2010).  Here’s the best example in one of Octavian Bellu’s statements from the prelims: “I am satisfied with the performances of our team tonight – they did very well on floor, vault, and beam and had some problems on the uneven bars. The uneven bars is, by tradition, our weakest apparatus and I think that the gymnastics specialists in Romania must analyze this problem carefully and find out a new system of preparation of our gymnasts on this apparatus. The important thing is, of course, the team final tomorrow. I am not a supporter of the newly introduced competition format for the team finals 6-3-3. Now we must think very carefully and make a decision – who will these three gymnasts per apparatus be….Tomorrow’s competition is a different story compared to today’s….” Guess we’re still figuring that one out…

And here is what Bellu was so happy / unhappy about:

 

Qualification

Andreea Răducan

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Silvia Stroescu

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Sabina Cojocar

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Carmen Ionescu

Vault

.

Beam

.

Andreea Ulmeanu

.

.

.

Floor

Loredana Boboc

Vault

Bars

Beam

Floor

Should you want to re-live the full team and All-around competitions, just follow the links.

This time around, the Romanian men raised the bar as well, taking home 3 gold medals themselves. The team that would go out and win the team bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics was formed at the time of Olympic champion Marius Urzică, World Champion Marian Drăgulescu, European champions Dan Potra, Ioan Suciu and Răzvan Șelariu (could not be confirmed though) and Rareș Orzață (who was replaced by Daniel Popescu in Athens). The only gymnasts not from Dinamo Bucharest club in this team were Potra – Timișoara – and Șelariu – Reșița. The team was 4th in qualification, leaving Marian Drăgulescu to state: ”Glad it’s over! In the finals we shall fight for a team medal!”. Urzică followed suit, declaring: ”With the new code of points and the new routines we have, this competition was hard for us, much harder than the competitions in recent years. We could have done better today three of our team members made mistakes – but we hope to do our best in the team finals.” Unfortunately, they didn’t improve this performance and finished in 6th place.

Marian Drăgulescu

Dan Potra, Romania’s best All-arounder of this generation, finished just outside the medals in the final, with Drăgulescu in 9th and Suciu in 11th.

But it was in the event finals where the Romanian gymnasts really shined, winning the pommel horse final through Marius Urzică (reigning Olympic champion at that time) and vault and floor finals through Marian Drăgulescu, who would eventually win a total of 8 titles on these 2 events throughout his career.

Unfortunately, only one video of our guys is available, but we are lucky enough to get to watch the ”Drăgulescu” vault, the one that never let Marian down:

So many amazing gymnastics moments one can hardly forget…

This post is also available in: Romanian