The high officials of Romanian Gymnastics stated before the 2015 World’s Championships that the women’s team qualification to Rio was a ‘’sure thing’’. The very much unexpected 13th place finish in Glasgow came afterwards as a shock, and was explained as ‘’bad luck’’. Under these circumstances, the said officials maintained their opinion: the qualification was not to be doubted, even though the team was to go through the Rio Test-Event in April 2016.
Surprisingly, 5 weeks before the Rio Test-Event, what was considered a ‘’sure thing’’ turned into uncertainty.
It seems the imminence of qualification was based on one name only: Larisa Iordache. The 2015 World’s bronze all-around medalist’s injury and subsequent impossibility to compete, changed for the first time the official expectations. Surprisingly enough, there is still optimism in the declarations: ‘’even in the worst-case scenario, Romania will still have at least one gymnast at the Olympic Games’’.
Maybe some would consider the single gymnast participation as a historic fail for a country with Romania’s tradition in this sport but not the country’s gymnastics authority, for them, the glass is half full…
Unlike the Federation which should have realistic expectations only, the Romanian fans have no other duty but to hope. To hope that the qualification is still possible, that once qualified team final is possible and even fighting for Olympic medals is still doable. Which we do, even after the public training of the national team that took place on March 16th in Bucharest’s Polyvalent Hall.
No, that is not to say that what we saw was encouraging. We saw struggle and hesitation, we saw lack of confidence, weariness, and even complacency.
But we did saw some sparkles-
the stonelike ambition of a wonderful veteran,
the fierceness of a talent too often tested by injuries,
the wiliness of a gymnast that got her chance a bit too late,
the attitude of a girl that knows her own potential and limits alike,
and the tenacity of a bold little team-player,
They reminded us of Romania – once one of the big four gymnastics powers. Will they manage to gather their forces at the test-event as a determined team? Will they earn the tickets to the Rio Olympic Games?
But as it is not the triumph that should matter in the Olympics but the road towards it, we hope these athletes will have the courage and ambition to train tenaciously, and to compete with joy and confidence.
As for the Romanian gymnastics decision makers – they need to take responsibility for this situation, and change the empty optimism with realism, and the big words with facts.