The C Score (2.0)

Posts Tagged ‘Octavian Belu

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.)

Octavian Belu and Maria Bitang, the two formidable coaches of the Romanian team through 2005, have apparently gotten married.

Belu and Bitang at the 2004 Olympics

THEN: Belu and Bitang at the 2004 Olympics

I think this is great/hilarious.  It initially came out as a rumor in a tabloid in Romania, but now some legit news sources are covering it, so I think it’s actually true.  See for instance here.

Belu and Bitang with their kids (from previous marriages)

NOW: Belu and Bitang with their kids (from previous marriages)

By the way, don’t their kids look FUN?

The sports community in Romania appears not to be too fond of Octavian Belu, the coach who steered the Romanian women’s gymnastics to five world and two Olympic team titles until he retired in early 2005. (Recall that he did so because Catalina Ponor and others were found at a Bucharest nightclub, and the team was eventually disbanded. Much drama.)

Belu was then named head of the ANS, the National Agency for Sport. Apparently he has been criticized since the Olympics for not going to Beijing. There was a serious clash between the Romanian Olympic committee (COSR) and ANS because two athletes were left home on doping allegations. According to this article, Belu was so angry with Octavian Morariu, head of COSR, that he then chose not to go to Beijing, apparently saying that “someone must take care of sports also at home.” My source on this is called Nine O’Clock, some English-language Romanian newspaper that, while claiming to be unbiased, doesn’t really appear so in this particular case:

The reasons of the former great gymnastics coach are more than childish (he says that “someone must take care of sports also at home”) as long as their deputies and his former collaborator, Mariana Bitang, are in China’s capital. Actually, the real reasons are that Belu understood that the results of our athletes at the present edition of the Olympiad are extremely weak, and did not want to witness an avalanche of attacks against him.

So Belu (little-known fact: his last name is actually Bellu, with two l’s) has really fallen from grace in Romania, which is a shame given his success. Of course, there were a lot of disturbing allegations against him and Mariana Bitang from the time they were coaches, notably from Alexandra Marinescu, but then they also led some amazing teams. (Their departure and the disbanding of the team, on the other hand, really left Nicolae Forminte, current head coach, with only two years to form a team for Beijing, since there was only one senior and seven junior gymnasts left after the scandal.)

Now there’s talk of Belu quitting ANS, apparently everyone thought it was imminent. The most recent article I can find that lists him still as president of ANS is from September 10th. (It’s in Romanian, so the fact that he still hasn’t quit was really the only thing I could decipher.) Could he be another coach that leaves Romania to coach a team with an up-and-coming program (a la Leonid Arkayev)?

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.


August 2020