Biographies: Gabriela Drăgoi

                   Maybe Gabriela Drăgoi is not one of those gymnasts who have won dozens of medals in international competitions but she is one of the most loved Romanian gymnasts in recent history. Today I have chosen to talk about her achievements and especially about the beauty of her gymnastics.

                   Gabriela Drăgoi was born on the 22nd of August, 1992 in Buzău, where she started gymnastics at the age of 4 at the local club, CSS Buzău, with Costică Clinciu and Gabriela Robu as coaches. She got noticed at Junior level in 2004, when her potential was unleashed. She won the School Championships with her team, finished 13th individually, won bars and placed third on vault. She would go on and improve on her All-around standings in her next two competitions, placing seventh at that year´s Team Nationals and sixth at the Junior Nationals. Among her achievements in the next two years were a floor bronze medal in 2005, the Junior All-around title in 2006 as well as three silver medals on bars, beam and floor.

                   2007 kick started Gabriela´s international career with highlights at Citta di Lugano Trophy, where she placed fourth in the All-around, as well as the European Youth Olympic Festival, where she won the bronze medal with the Romanian team. We picked a beautiful beam routine from the Romanian International Championship of that year, though, with the commentary of none other than Mariana Bitang:

             Gabriela moved into the senior ranks during a very difficult year, one that would require her to demonstrate she could be part of the Romanian Olympic team very early on in the season. She had already turned into a beautiful, elegant gymnast, with a preference for bars and beam so she competed in a number of friendly meetings against the teams of France, Greece or Great Britain. Her first major competition would be the Clermont-Ferrand European Championships. The Romanian team (Sandra Izbașa, Steliana Nistor, Anamaria Tămârjan, Cerasela Pătrașcu and Gabriela Drăgoi) would go on to win the team final, with Gabriela contributing on bars and vault. But the most important competition of her career would be the Beijing Olympic Games and an unexpected beam final participation. Despite her young age and lack of experience, Gabriela pulled it together on beam and ended up representing Romania on its most iconic apparatus. She took home a bronze medal in the team competition and a fifth place in this individual final. It would be a year to remember for this 16 year old!

                   A year later, Gabriela was an established member of the senior team, continuing to capitalize on the past year´s success with another medal at the Milan Europeans, a bronze on beam. Health issues would come into the picture in 2010, when she underwent surgery on her left foot and missed out on that year´s Euros. Surprisingly, she was back competing on all four events by August and even made the World team for Rotterdam but could not manage to medal there. The team placed fourth at this competition.

                   Gabriela would only participate at the Romanian Nationals in 2011, placing sixth in the All-around and on bars, fifth on vault and fourth on beam. Her last international competition was 2012´s Cottbus World Cup, where she placed sixth on beam. This is the year she would take the decision to retire from elite gymnastics and continue her studies at Bucharest´s Physical Education and Sports College.

                   Although many consider her retirement premature and would have wanted her to continue competing on beam and bars, Gabriela Drăgoi had her own shining moments throughout her career. For all those wonderful times, for all the hard work, for making us proud and for being a fighter…

Thank you, Gabriela Drăgoi!

Medal Record:

Olympic Games: 1 bronze medal

European Championships: 1 gold and 1 bronze medal

This post is also available in: Romanian