The Medal Factory – Episode 9

[The Medal Factory – episode 9: part 1 & part 2 (c) DigiSport]


“There is no magic wand or formulas that can get you on the podium or towards that gold medal, it´s all about the hard work.Octavian Bellu

The countdown for the competition that will open the fight for the 2012 London tickets has already begun. The Romanian gymnasts will start the Tokyo event, held between the 7th and the 16th of October, in the second subdivision.

Octavian Bellu: This World Championship is a qualifying stage for the Olympic Games but what I want is to fully understand the potential of every gymnast. Of course, this year we are not taking Larisa Iordache into account – next year Larisa will be in the team – but the core of the team was already put together in Rotterdam. The results at the Europeans can bring one or two gymnasts into consideration as well but the Worlds will be the defining stage for choosing the Olympic team. I´m not considering here any health issues that might appear. If this happens our entire strategy, training structure and Olympic project will have to take another direction. At a certain moment, there was this discussion I really don´t like, about replacing the focus on the team event with the individual results, all around or apparatus finals. This seems really difficult to me, the team has always been the basis for me as I´ve always considered the individual results a consequence of the support the finalists received from the entire team. Times are changing and we must consider every possibility.

Andreea Raducan: How is the training for the Worlds going? Are the girls reaching the level you want them to be at?

Marius Vintila: Yes, at this moment they are on schedule. Training for Worlds never actually started at any particular time because we work every day, respecting the program and the plans for trainings and stages, of course. We are happy with the girls’ level of preparation, there are not big changes from one day to another, some elements still cause some trouble, but the basis and the structure are where they’re supposed to be.

Diana Chelaru: You only get to do one routine of a total of 4 minutes. And you are training 6 hours a day, doing 11 or 12 trainings a week, it would be stupid to throw it all away.

Work + sacrifices = success

Andreea Raducan: We are again at Izvorani with “The Medal Factory”; the girls are training here for the upcoming World Championships. I’m sitting with one of the girls’ coaches, Lucian Sandu.

Hi Lucian! Could you please tell us more about the girls’ training and where they are at this moment?

Lucian Sandu: Hi, welcome again to the gym, it’s a pleasure for us to have you here. Like you just said we are training for the World Championships, we are still in the learning stage and we all hope to get where we want to be.

Andreea Raducan: How is the training going in this new location? Let’s call it new since people are still used to the Olympic Center in Deva….

Octavian Bellu: You know me very well, I’d never say it’s going good. It’s ok, we have some objectives

at this stage and some of the girls have already achieved them, others are still working on it. Considering the time left before Worlds we need to speed up training for the latter. The girls who will have the required age for the Olympics, but cannot compete at this year’s Worlds and don’t have these objectives are going to other kind of competitions, to prepare them for making the Olympic team. We have similar girls both in age and in preparation, but before the Olympics games begin, we hope to put together a unitary team which can battle it out with the other candidates to the medals, both in the team competition as well as in the individual one.

Choreography has its special place in Artistic Gymnastics. Mariana Ristea takes care of this creative, artistic side. In elite, choreography takes into account the gymnast’s qualities; the routines must also take into account the acrobatics and the artistic elements, like the pirouettes.

Andreea Raducan: How much do you work with the girls for the artistic side, how many hours?

Mariana Ristea: We use 30 minutes before training with a rigorous, academic part. This is mandatory if you want to have a good stance on floor and all other apparatus. Then, we focusing on jumps for 10 minutes, elements used on beam and floor. And I’m also there for corrections on their floor routines.

Andreea Raducan: When you start putting together a routine for a certain gymnast, you already have it in your head or when you meet her, you communicate, collaborate and see what comes out of that?

Mariana Ristea: Both. When I choose the music, I imagine how the routine should look like but it might come out in totally different way when you start working with the gymnast. This collaboration is very important since we have experienced gymnasts in the team who already have their own ways of expression. We want to keep that and collaborate.

Great Romanian gymnasts and coaches are working at “The Medal Factory”. They have always been at the highest level at every important competition, where the elite of gymnastics meets.

Andreea Raducan: What do you expect from this team you are training, together with the other coaches, for the World Championships and the Olympics?

Lucian Sandu: Honestly? 6 gold medals.

Andreea Raducan: It’s all that you can get.

Lucian Sandu: The maximum. To surpass the 4 or 5 medals, I don’t remember exactly, we won at Sydney. One more step forward.

Adrian Stoica: If we are talking about the Tokyo preparation, the level of radiation and other similar parameters are at a normal level. The decision was based on documents, it was not an emotional one.

There have been many discussions around this aspect and a change could only be made by the FIG council. After the Japanese Federation, their Olympic committee and the Foreign Office did their presentation, nobody thought this change was necessary. From this point of view, as long as other disruptive things do not take place, we can go forward.

Andreea Raducan: You’ve worked with many generations of gymnasts. How are they different from Lavinia Milosovici or Gina Gogean’s generation?

Marian Bitang: From a technical point of view, looking at their physical qualities, they are not more or less talented than the previous generations. What is different is the way they look at competition, they don’t have the same desire to win. We are trying to help them regain, or gain, a winner’s spirit. To at least want to win when they are in a competition, you cannot always win the gold medal but you can want it and regret not winning it.

Andreea Raducan: You’ve worked with a large number of generations and you’ve achieved results with all of them. Is this new generation different from the previous ones?

Octavian Bellu: I can only think of one aspect. They are not very different, there have been teams like this which came together in the end and had results but their involvement was different. Beyond this, another aspect we are fighting for is their willingness to sustain an effort. It seems this generation doesn’t go beyond what they think they can do and they have to fight this kind of mentality as it will limit them. They then conclude they can, that a moment’s discomfort can lead to success, that working is the only way and repetition in gymnastics is essential to reach the “perfection” we all expect. This is the clear difference, and I’m not saying this is only valid for this generation as we have gymnasts from different generations inside the team. I think they will realize that this is the only way, there is no magic wand or formulas that can get you on the podium or towards that gold medal, it´s all about the hard work. There is a problem nowadays, they take monotony harder. If the girls from your generation could keep repeating elements during a larger period of time, could have high expectations from execution, for them this capability is lower. If it’s backed up by not being used to this, it can lead to less fortunate results. I believe they are slowly establishing their rhythm, they don´t want long breaks anymore; some were imposed by injuries but some were taken for less objective reasons. They will understand that they need to solve their consistency problem and then the results will start showing.

Adrian Stoica: If we are talking about results, this will not be easy as this is a qualification stage for the Olympics, everyone will want to be in the top 8 in the team event or win one of the 3 individual medals which can take you directly to the Olympics. This makes this kind of competition much harder, even than the Olympics games. Of course, at the Olympics you compete against these same gymnasts who qualified first here, but the expectation is different. This is a giant World Championship, with more than 77 National Federations and everyone is seriously fighting for those qualifying goals. It’s very difficult to predict what will happen. I can only foresee a serious competition between the 4 main contenders, the US, China, Russia and Romania, with very little to make the difference. Then there’s a group of countries who follow closely, like Australia, Brazil, Spain, France, Italy. There is serious challenge. I don’t think Romania will have any problems in qualifying. A complete Romanian team, with all the best gymnasts, would only be ready in London. At this World Championships, we have great gymnasts who will not make it because of the age rule, but they will be able to compete in 2012. There is where we hope to have a plus that not many other contenders will have. It’s difficult to say, we cannot talk of nerves for this World Championship, but we are sure that Romania’s most competitive team will be in London in 2012.


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