Romanian Nationals Buzau 2009 – Senior competition

The Romanian women’s artistic gymnastics, in decline, as well-known, showed in Buzau its best at this moment. The results on paper, the lower technical level, the falls, the nervousness and the tension of the competition have only stressed the idea of crisis, of decline. But the gymnastics fans will surely manage to find some hope even under such difficult circumstances.

The all-around competition aligned 6 senior gymnasts: Anamaria Tamirjan, Diana Chelaru, Ana Porgras, Cerasela Patrascu, Gabriela Dragoi, Loredana Sabau, and 3 juniors (becoming seniors in 2010): Amelia Racea, Claudia Voicu, Daniela Andrei. A worryingly small number, many of them (partially) recovered from injuries or working in pain, which shows that, in the country of Nadia Comaneci, the children don’t want to do gymnastics anymore! Despite that, we saw among the 9 gymnasts some who want to and can do more!

The evolutions of Ana Porgras, the junior European beam champion, were the most expected in Buzau. Coming back after an injury which kept her aside for almost a year, Ana not only  made the surprise of competing in the all-around, but also of winning the competition, proving that she’s competitive on all four events. On beam, her favorite event and ,Romanians best chance to medal in London World Championships, Ana presented routines with D (= difficulty) scores of 6.6. Unfortunately, during the 2 competition days we have already seen 3 variations of her beam routine, Ana being, still, in an experimental phase, which led, inevitably, to falls. Despite this, the choreography, the composition and the execution of her beam routine are remarkable. As if she was born in the “country of ballet”, Russia, Ana seems to flow on the beam, performing acrobatic combinations, but also spectacular artistic elements. In her routine there are acrobatic combinations such as the overused aerial walkover + flic flac + layout stepout, but also the less common back walkover + flic flac + layout, together with difficult artistic elements: switch split ring leap, the sheep jump, the Yang Bo jump, original mixed combinations: side walkover + switch split leap + tucked back salto, but also nice choreographic elements. Moreover, during training, Ana has tried a beautiful new series of turns.

But Ana offers so much more to the audience than the beam routine! After a clean evolution at the uneven bars, where she presented a 6.3 difficulty routine (stalder with 1+1/2 turn + Jaeger release, stalder with 1/1 turn +overshoot to handstand t + piked stalder with 1/1 turn, double layout dismount), she performed very expressively on floor, on classical music, with a D score of 5.5-5.7 (full in tucked, salto with 2+1/2 twists + tucked front salto, double pike, back double tuck, duble turn with leg at horizontal, Memmel turn –  very nicely executed), and she performed a correct Yourchenko 360 vault (D=5.0), the vault being the event where Ana would need a higher difficulty in order to be able to fight for an all around medal at  Worlds.

Anamaria Tamirjan, the gymnast who we would have liked to see reaching top form this year, is still fighting with old injuries and only due to an extreme ambition she manages to still train and compete with pain. Ana was not in good shape in Buzau, she passed through moments of tension and disappointment, but at the end she managed to recover her smile, a sign that she has the power to continue.  Her routines had less difficulty than the ones from the Europeans, but she showed more self-confidence on floor (where she seems to have given up the double layout) and she tried new combinations on the uneven bars in order to increase her difficulty score (aiming, probably, at 5.7-5.8).

Diana Chelaru was overall a nice surprise. Although she is still not able to completely hold her nervousness, she became more confident. She considerably improved her D score on beam, especially by introducing a difficult combination: flic + full twisting back salto, reaching 6.1 difficulty, she corrected some of the form problems on bars, where she tried new combinations (aiming  a D score of 5.8-5.9), but she fell on both days  performing the same combination: swing backward to Jaeger release; she increased the difficulty of her second vault from 4.4 to 4.6 and she performed nicely and clean on floor (full in tucked, whip + 1080, double pike, double tuck, D=5.7).

Without Sandra Izbasa, injured, the fourth potential Romanian representative in London would be the announced alternate, Gabriela Dragoi. But Gabi didn’t have a good competition in Buzau. Although she only competed on her favorite events, bars and beam, Dragoi seemed out of shape and unmotivated, performing easier routines (5.3 bars, 5.5 beam). We still hope that Gabi will regain her motivation and that she will come back in competition shape.

For the other seniors present in the competition, Cerasela Patrascu and Loredana Sabau, the Nationals were their first competition after recovering from injuries. Cerasela Patrascu competed on beam and bars, performing low dificulty dismounts. She showed, however, the same almost perfect form and impressive flexibility, during routines in which we saw some of her old elements: Maloney transition (Shaposhnikova type) on bars, a leap to cross split with support of one hand beam mount, but also new elements such as the Yang Bo jump. Loredana Sabau competed on bars, beam and vault, giving a good impression especially on beam, where she performed an original combination: switch split leap + aerial side walkover (D 5.4).

The senior competition has benefited also from the presence of the juniors Amelia Racea, Claudia Voicu, Daniela Andrei. Amelia Racea, although not in her best shape, showed especially in the event finals, just how much she likes to compete. After her 4th place finish in the all-around, she won 3  silver medals (on vault, floor and bars) and a gold medal on beam. The most expected performance of Amelia was on vault, but she didn’t perform the Yourchenko 720, the vault that brought her the gold medal at  EYOF. Claudia Voicu, back from an injury, impressed, as expected (despite a fall), on beam (D=6.2), with nice lines, interesting choreography and  composition of the routine. She had 2 difficult, less common, mixed series: switch split leap + side salto and switch split leap with ½ turn + tucked back salto. Also, she performed probably the most beautiful sheep jump of the meet.

Daniela Andrei, audience’s favorite, was (probably) the (pleasant) surprise of the senior competition, especially for those who didn’t put too many hopes in the junior who was last called  to join the national team in Deva. Dana showed for her home audience that  beam and bars are Buzau’s gymnastics specialties, showing a good progress on these events.

To conclude, despite the small number of participants and the large number of  falls and mistakes, we’ve seen in Buzau that there are still things being tried in the Romanian gymnastics, we’ve seen that there is still imagination for creating original routines (especially on beam – congratulations, Lili Cosma!), we’ve seen that new elements are being tried (some less seen in the Romanian gymnastics), we’ve seen that effort is being made in solving old problems (especially on bars), but we’ve also noticed new problems (especially on vault – where, although most gymnasts perform only one vault, even that is not being correctly learned , as it’s the case in the bad leg form on the double Yourchenko vault performed by Diana Chelaru and Anamaria Tamirjan).

We hope that the Romanian team, discouraged and scared by the injury of Sandra Izbasa, will be able to find its way to the Worlds in London. We also hope that those whose job is to bring the Romanian gymnastics back into the world elite will do everything that is necessary…before it’s too late!

Anna, Fangymnastics friend

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