Romania’s hopes (1): Gabriela Dragoi

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Before the Olympic Games in Beijing, the name Gabriela Dragoi was known but to a few specialists and fans of the gymnastics world. ¬†Nevertheless, Gabriela Dragoi is definitely Romania’s surprise at the recent Olympics. The youngest member of the team, at the time not even 16 years old (she turned 16 on 28 August), surprised us by qualifying in the beam final, surpassing our team’s two leaders: Sandra Izbasa and Steliana Nistor.

 

Gabriela Dragoi’s career

Gabriela Dragoi started practicing gymnastics at the age of 4 at the Buzau Sports Club, under the care of trainers Gabriela Robu (former Trusca, member of the national team at the Olympic Games in 1976, where the team received the silver medal) and Costica Clinciu. We don’t have much information on her results in the “Mica gimnasta” competitions and of other similar ones during her junior years, but it is certain that Gabi has proved to be a very talented and hard working child, since she was the only one in her club chosen to join the National team in Deva.

An important moment in Gabriela’s career was the participation at the Junior Olympic Games in Belgrade last year, where she had a reasonably good competition (qualification results; final results). In 2007, she also participated in the Lugano Trophy competition, where she was 4th in the individual all-round, as well as in the Junior Internationals, where she unfortunately didn’t have a very good beam exercise, her favorite event. The same year, at the Romanian Internationals, Mariana Bitang, former trainer of the National team, specialized on beam, was appreciating Gabriela’s form on this event (results).¬†

In April 2008, Gabi was part of the team that won the European Clermont-Ferrand title in France. In the group finals, Gabriela participated in the uneven bars and vault competitions, having to replace her junior colleague, Cerasela Patrascu, who was seriously injured during the qualifications. She proved to be a solid member of the team, on who the team could rely on during difficult times; her exercise had no major faults and brought her relatively good scores for a beginner: 14.600 and 14.225 respectively.

One month before the start of the Olympic Games in Beijing, Gabriela Dragoi became national beam champion in Ploiesti, defeating Steliana Nistor.

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The Olympic Games

In Beijing, Gabi had a solid beam exercise, which gained her a spot in the Olympics final despite a relatively small starting value (6.5, compared to more experienced gymnasts, with starting values higher than 6.6). After being 7th in the qualification round, she entered the competition second. She had a good performance, with no wobbles whatsoever and ended with a close-up of her large satisfied smile, a sign that she had performed her exercise just like ‘during practice’. Gabita (as her friends call her) finished the competition 5th, a pleasing result considering the less difficult level of the exercise, yet a result that brings her extraordinary motivation for the future! This good result confirmed the previous good performances that Gabi had during the team competition, when she proved to be the same important gymnast the team could rely on.

Upon her return at home, the authorities in Buzau and several sponsors offered Gabriela prizes and committed to helping her with whatever she needed in the future.

Gabriela is, without a doubt, one of the gymnasts who represent the future of Romanian gymnastics. Provided her health allows it, we will surely see her again at the next Olympic Games (London 2012), where we hope she can win the gold medal at her favorite event. 

Keep up the good work, Gabi!

Ioanavol

(many thanks for the help to my friend Stella)

One Response to Romania’s hopes (1): Gabriela Dragoi

  1. […] ago, the series of articles about the Romania’s artistic gymnastics hopes. We chose then Gabriela Dragoi as first “hope” to write about thanks to her surprising evolution during the Olympics, where she finished 5th in […]

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