She is the real proof that hard work and tenacity do not go unrewarded. After a serious injury she gets back to the national team from Deva in 2013 and just a few months later she wins the bronze medal on vault at National Championships, vaulting a clean full twisting Yurchenko. Her name is Ioana Coman and she is one of Romania’s hopefuls for Rio.
Below you can read an inspiring interview with Ioana.
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- Could you please tell us how and when the adventure called “gymnastics” started for you?
It all started when my mum took me to rhythmic gymnastics classes during the 2004 Olympics. I recall watching artistic gymnastics on TV and being so proud that I was also doing gymnastics, but it was confusing to me to see that I wasn’t doing the same things as the girls on TV, I wanted to do the same things. My mum explained to me that I was doing another type of gymnastics. She then took me to an artistic gymnastics class which I enjoyed a lot. When she asked me if I like it better there, I said a very confident “yes” and this is how it all began.
- 2. In 2011 you were selected to be part of the national team in Deva but because of an injury you’ve been forced to take a break and return later in 2013 in the national team, what were the easy parts and what were the hard parts for you when you got back to the team?
In the beginning t was hard to adapt to the new program but I managed to readjust quickly. It was easy to overcome the homesickness because I have here a great new family with me composed of my colleagues and my coaches. But the hardest thing was to realize how much my teammates had progressed during the year that I missed and how much I had to work to be able to catch up. But in the end I managed to overcome everything because it was the second time I was going through this, I already knew what centralized training means and I had the coaches by my side which helped me a lot.
3. What made you remain strong and ambitious after the injury and help you continue to fight even though at some point you must have felt as if sailing against the wind?
First of all my parents helped me a lot by just being there for me all the time and I want to thanks them a lot for this, secondly my personal ambition to get back from where I left of and thirdly there were all these very optimistic people beside me that gave me theirs optimism.
I remember being at a doctor’s visit where I was asked how many hours I train daily. When the doctor heard I was training 5 hour every day he said: “Congratulations! There are many grown-ups who do not work 5 hours a day”. I don’t want to become like those people, I want to do something good with my life, on my own. I am sure that gymnastics will help me reach my goals.
4. There are a few gymnasts that reinvent themselves on apparatuses that weren’t their strong ones (Sandra Izabsa became Olympic champion on vault, Mustafina became world champion on balance beam), did you ever feel after your return that there is an apparatus on which you could be better than you ever hoped to be?
Yes, I was surprised to notice that I was progressing rapidly on vault. Because of my knee injury I did not expect to be doing so well on vault. I want to thank my vault couch who believed in me and had the patience and tact to teach me how to improve my vaults.
5. In which event do you wish to improve more in the near future?
I hope to improve on vault, I want to learn a more difficult vault like a double twisting Yurchenko and why not a 2.5 twisting Yurchenko.
6. Imagine that an unknown person, someone’s mother is asking you what are the advantages and disadvantages of having a child in elite gymnastics. What would you say to her?
Of course there are a lot advantages like having an active and healthy lifestyle, a better education, a better perception of responsibility and probably the most important thing is having the chance go to the Olympics. Why not? Everything is possible. Indeed there are also a lot of disadvantages like health issues and injuries (artistic gymnastics is not an easy sport). Another disadvantage is that if you want to be elite you’ll have to leave your family and move to one of the national teams where the parents will only visit you from time to time (depending on their financial situation) and also once you are there the school is not a priority which is ok for an elite athlete but if you quit at some point there is a lot to catch up.
Now after 10 years of gymnastics, I can say that there are more advantages than disadvantages. This sport gave me an education, made me more responsible and helped me to better appreciate what a parent does for his child. Gymnastics gives you big satisfactions, that feeling that you experience when you receive a medal is something unique, but greater than that is the people’s appreciation, the belief that you made your coaches proud, the certainty that all the hard work was not in vain.
7. How do you spend your free time?
I spend most of my free time doing my homework and trying to understand what I have learned in school in that day. When I don’t have homework, in week-end, I watch movies with my teammates, I clean up my room and if it’s beautiful, sunny day I go out with my teammates.
8. What do you think you will be doing in ten years from now?
In ten years from now I will still be in the gym, not as athlete but as coach. After I give up to gymnastics I want to became a coach. I will be in the gym to help the next generations reach their goals.