The C Score (2.0)

Archive for December 18th, 2008

Nadia Comaneci did a new interview with Jurnalul National, complete with ridiculously cute pictures of the DNA-gifted child of theirs.

Honestly, Comaneci bores me these days. Also, like many currently competing gymnasts, she wears too much make-up. The one tidbit I did find interesting: she had Thanksgiving with Geza Poszar (despite the fact that Poszar corroborated Trudi Kollar’s stories of abuse by Bela Karolyi, a dispute that Comaneci clearly wants to stay out of), who knows George Clooney! (Comaneci also mentions that she is still in touch with Bela and Marta.)

Otherwise, the interview is a yawner. They don’t even ask her to comment on the recent Olympics! If I had been doing this interview, I might have started with that, instead of chatting about her friendship with bodybuilder Joe Weider and the 1976 Olympics.

Anyway, what is going on in this picture??? You’ll notice that if you glance at it, it looks like Bart Conner doesn’t have legs.

Whaaaaaaa?

Whaaaaaaa?

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Nicolae Forminte did an interview with Replica.

Nicolae Forminte with Sandra Izbasa

Nicolae Forminte with Sandra Izbasa

In the interview, Forminte talks about the Romanians’ performance in Beijing and their hopes for 2009, and also has some very kind words for Steliana Nistor.

Of the Romanians’ performance in Beijing, Forminte says that Nistor and Ana Maria Tamirjan didn’t really finalize their routines until Beijing, where they did a lot of last-minute training. Moreover, Gabriela Dragoi was suffering from leg pain. This left Forminte with only one team member fully able to contribute: Sandra Izbasa. No wonder she was the only one to win gold.

On the other hand, Forminte is not disappointed in his team’s performance:

I believed in myself and in my colleagues, and I managed to fulfill our objectives. I was tremendously happy that the team remained on the Olympic podium.

Forminte also says that he didn’t really publicize news of Nistor’s back problems before the 2008 Olympics (among other things) because he didn’t want to use it as an excuse for the Romanians’ performance.

You’ll recall that when she first retired, Forminte tried to convince Nistor not to, but he now says that he wasn’t sure she could continue, concluding that, “For me, the gymnastics chapter of Steliana’s life has ended, but we remain in contact.”

Who's more talented?

Nistor and Liukin: Who's more talented?

Because of her injury, Nistor was not able to train at the level of intensity that was necessary to achieve Forminte’s biggest goal for her: to win gold in the all-around. This is disappointing to Forminte especially because, he says, “She was more talented than the American [Nastia] Liukin.”

(That’s a difficult argument to make! But I’ll let people fight it out amongst themselves. Suffice it to say, Liukin does seem to have a lot more medals. … Then again, natural talent and hard work are too different things. Then again, Liukin’s entire DNA is a veritable vault of talent. Aaanyway.)

With Nistor gone, there is certainly an aura of stress surrounding Forminte. He talks about the difficulties the Romanians faced in the last quadrennium, saying that it did not go unnoticed by foreign coaches and others that he kept showing up to competitions with new gymnasts. He says that he has been anxious and unable to rest.

As for the looking to the past and hoping for the future, Forminte attributes the Romanian decline to two things: the Code of Points and the current Romanian system for training children and junior athletes. You’ll recall that Forminte said after the Olympics that under the old CoP, the Romanians would have won: they had the cleanest exercises. But, he acknowledges, it’s important to change with the times and address these issues, even citing a desire to improve on bars. (Thank god.)

For 2009, Forminte is looking at Izbasa, Tamirjan, Dargoi. He hopes to see Dragoi and Andreea Acatrinei back, but both are currently injured. He also mentions Diana Chelaru. Otherwise, he says, he has not yet found a junior with the talent to replace Nistor. (I assume Larisa Iordache doesn’t count because of her age.)

It’s going to be tough for the Romanians. Lots of problems on bars among juniors (more on Romanian juniors here); I hope Forminte’s serious when he says he wants to work on that.

I respect Forminte. As Al Trautwig always used to say about Octavian Belu, the man lives in a one-room house adjacent to the gym compound. It’s a tough life. Also, if Izbasa is any reflection on him, he’s a good coach, I think. She’s been dealing with this ridiculous schedule really well, and dealt with her World Cup Final disappointment exceedingly gracefully. Anyway, as you can tell, I’m glad she’s still around. I really liked Nistor, but Izbasa’s my favorite current Romanian senior. (We’ll have to wait until 2012 (!) to see if Iordache can grab that spot.)

Today, Globoesporte published an article about how Oleg Ostapenko is returning to the Ukraine, leaving Irina Ilyashenko in charge of the burgeoning dynasty they created together.

Oleg Ostapenko working with Daiane dos Santos

Oleg Ostapenko working with Daiane dos Santos

In fact, according to this press release, Ostapenko has accepted an offer to be the new junior women’s coach for Russia — this despite the fact that earlier reports had him turning down an offer from the Russian Gymnastics Federation. (Edit: IG has a short story in English.)

This new move has Ostapenko working alongside Alexander Alexandrov, the new Russian women’s head coach, who is himself returning to Russia after fifteen years in the United States.

Everyone was psyched when Ostapenko announced he was returning to the Ukraine. At the time, Igor Korobshinsky, the head men’s coach, said that Ostapenko’s decision was the beginning of the return of all of Ukraine’s best athletes.

This is a huge coup for the Russians. This is a guy who coached Viktoria Karpenko, Natalia Kalinina, Tatiana Lysenko, even Lilia Podkopaeva.

On the other hand, disaster strikes for the Ukraine. The Russians start their training camp on January 8th, and I can’t imagine the Ukrainians would be too far behind. That gives them less than a month to find a replacement for Ostapenko.

In the longer-term, after their disappointing performance at the Olympics, the Ukrainians were really looking to find a new way. I’m hoping it will still happen, because I do love them. But they need a strong coach and, more importantly, a good advocate for better training conditions and equipment. Otherwise, could Ukraine wind up going the way of other Soviet states and satellites, like Belarus and Hungary, that have seen their stock fall dramatically in the past 20 years?


About The C Score

First there was A score and B score, now D score and E score. Where is the C score? Right here. In the form of my random thoughts about women's artistic gymnastics.

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