[Exclusive interview] Valentin Mavrodineanu: What made Romanian gymnasts great was their will to win.

Valentin Mavrodineanu is one of those exceptional gymnasts whose results speak for themselves. He has won everything there is to win in Aerobic gymnastics, excelling at the Mixed Pairs and Trio events. He was part of the exceptional Mavrodineanu – Brînzea – Zamfir Trio and retired last year after winning gold again at the Sofia World Championships. It’s just too sad gymnasts like him could never compete at the Olympics (Aerobics is not an Olympic sport)…

The number of medals in Romanian Aerobic gymnastics’ history has placed Romania ahead in the all-time medal standings. What made you, the Romanian gymnasts, be so successful in Aerobic?

We – the Romanian gymnasts – had the desire to succeed, the support of the Romanian Federation and a very good coach who helped us win all these World and European medals.

What drew you into Aerobics when you first started thinking about going into this branch of gymnastics?

I liked the fact that it’s an energetic and pretty complex sport (many think that fitness gymnastics is the same thing but it’s not).

You’ve competed a lot and with/against many gymnasts. Who do you remember fondly?

I remember many gymnasts from other countries as well but those I remember most are Romanians Mihaela Pohoată, Mircea Zamfir and Mircea Brînzea.

Maria Fumea is a very important name in Aerobic gymnastics and your National team coach. How was training with her?

Training with her is a challenge. She comes in with new training ideas or skills every day, everything she touches becomes successful.

Have you got your eye set on any of the gymnasts of the next generation? Who should we be following?

It’s difficult, as many of them are just starting. But I can definitely point out Corina Constantin and even Cristian Iordan, they are the ones who might bring the next World and European medals for Romania.

We will be celebrating soon 20 years since Aerobic gymnastics was recognized by the official gymnastics forums. How has Aerobics evolved in time? What is its future?

Aerobic gymnastics is growing year over year, it’s getting more popular and the competitions are getting more and more difficult as countries like Korea, Japan, China, Russia or even Vietnam are investing in this sport. Let’s hope we can see it at the Olympics soon.

What routine would you show those who have not been following Aerobics until now to draw them into this sport?

There are many exciting routines in Aerobics but what makes this sport special is teamwork, especially when we talk about mixed categories where we have combinations (or pyramids as those who are not familiar with this sport call them)

What is the most emotional moment of your career, the one you will always remember?

I get the chills every time I remember my first World Championship, I won 3 gold medals there (mixed pairs, trio, team). I remember everything that happened there.

We have the World Cups and the Europeans in France this year. What should we expect?

We have to be patient this year as most “veterans” have retired and the new gymnasts lack experience in this kind of competitions. But we expect them to bring home a couple of medals anyway, I hope they win at least a gold medal in these 2 difficult competitions.

Did you feel any impact of having organized a European Championship in Romania in 2011?

Maybe the envy of those countries which wanted to hold this competition themselves, especially since we’ve always had good results. I can’t speak for the impact at Federation level since us gymnasts have no way of knowing that.

We all believe our gymnasts are not valued or compensated proportionally to their achievements. This is, probably, even more valid for Aerobics. Would things change if this were an Olympic sport?

I’m certain that, if this sport were part of the Olympic movement, it would become much more popular and gymnasts would be better rewarded.

Sometimes, the gymnasts who go into Aerobics come from other branches of gymnastics. They bring in other qualities and a different feel to their gymnastics. Is this a way of looking for a new style or “stealing” some skills?

Those gymnasts coming from Artistic have other qualities and can perform difficult skills easier. Indeed, there are a couple of skills borrowed and performed by all branches of gymnastics.

Andreea Bogati and Valentin Mavrodineanu. Photo: Volker Minkus

This post is also available in: Romanian