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Biographies: Daniela Silivaș

              Daniela Viorica Silivaș – Harper will always be known as one of gymnastics’ brightest stars and we feel proud she represents the Romanian school of gymnastics.

Photo by Tom Theobald

              She was born in the Romanian capital of gymnastics, Deva (May 9th, 1972) and had a very successful career, winning medal after medal in every single competition, from Europeans to Worlds to Olympic Games. Her career started from the desire of “being like Nadia”, every little gymnasts’ dream once she exchanged family, friends and playtime for the long training hours in the gym. And that dream became reality when her talent, consistent work and love of gymnastics led her on the path to success very early on.

              She stood out during her junior years, winning the National Championship twice, in 1981 and 1982. She shined in her first international competition, the 1984 Junior European Championships, winning the title on Beam, silver on Floor and Uneven Bars and placing fourth in the All-around. Following this success, the Romanian Federation decided Daniela should move to the senior team and changed her date of birth (from 1972 to 1970) so that she could compete in the senior ranks. At only 13, she would go on to win the World title on Beam at the 1985 World Championships and score the first 10 out of an impressive collection. Daniela continued to consistently make the podiums of major competitions, gathering a large number of medals: Silver in the All-around at the 1986 World Championships; Gold in the All-around, on Uneven Bars, Beam and Floor and Silver on Vault at the 1987 European Championships; Gold with the Team, on Uneven Bars and Floor and Bronze in the All-around at the 1987 World Championships. Although the latter is the year that Daniela selected as the most successful year of her entire career, it is considered she actually peaked at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. She won three gold medals (uneven bars, beam and floor), two silver medals (team and All-around) and one bronze medal (vault). With this achievement, Daniela became the only gymnast in history (both WAG and MAG) to win a medal in all the events of the same Olympic Games. By scoring seven perfect tens during this competition, she also tied Nadia Comăneci’s 1976 record.

              During the next year, Daniela suffered a knee injury due to the thousands of landings she had performed in training, for which she had to undergo surgery later on. She managed to fight through this, though, to defend her floor title at the 1989 European Championships and win three more medals there. At that year’s World Championships, she won three more titles on beam, floor and uneven bars. After undergoing knee surgery, she returned to train at the Deva National Center but decided to retire from the sport once it was closed during the 1989 Romanian Revolution.

              Daniela showed some of the best routines in the world during her career, including original skills. Some of these skills, named after her, are still performed to this day: the Silivaș on floor (her double twisting double back is performed today by Larisa Iordache, amongst others), the Silivaș spin (on the ankles), her beam mount (the shoulder stand-pirouette was more recently performed by Raluca Haidu). Daniela caught the public’s attention through brilliant routines, a charming smile and her energy on the floor. She would stand out through clean execution, elegance and an attitude which portrayed her love for gymnastics and for competition.

              After retirement, Daniela relocated to the United States where she married Scott Harper. They have three children together, Jadan Scott, Ava Luciana and Rylan Bryce. Although she put an end to her career as a gymnast, she couldn’t stay away from the gym for too long. She is now working on creating new champions as a coach at Atlanta’s Jump Start Gym, having her own daughter as a pupil.

              Daniela Silivaș became part of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2002 as the youngest gymnast to receive this honorary award. She won our hearts and gave us another reason to be proud of the Romanian values.

Thank you, Daniela Șilivaș!

Daniela’s Medal Record:

Olympic Games: 3 gold, 2 silver and a bronze medal

World Championships: 7 gold, 2 silver and a bronze medal

European Championships: 5 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze medals

This post is also available in: Romanian