Today we continue our roundup of the sporting
highlights of 2020, a year impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. After numerous
competitions were postponed or cancelled in March, in the second half of the
year athletes resumed their sports activities, most competitions being held
without the physical attendance of sports fans.
In July, Romanian fencer Ana-Maria Popescu won
the 2020 edition of the World Epee Cup. The title was awarded by the
International Fencing Federation as several competitions could not be held due
to the COVID pandemic. The international body ruled that the winners of the
2020 annual competitions should be designated depending on the position they
held in March, when sports competitions were suspended. Ana-Maria Popescu was
followed in the women's standings by Nathalie Moellhausen of Brazil and Sun
Yiwen of China. Let us further note the Romanian won the World Epee Cup also in
2008, 2009 and 2013. After winning the 2020 edition, Ana-Maria Popescu became
the fencer with the most wins in the World Cup, outranking Laura Flessel of
France and Emese Szász-Kovács of Hungary, both with three wins overall. Also in
July, the International Olympic Committee introduced new qualifying criteria in
all sports events included in the Tokyo Olympic Games, postponed for 2021.
Major adjustments were made in athletics, cycling, weightlifting, basketball
and judo. The age eligibility for the Olympic football tournament changed from
23 to 24. Qualification to the Olympic Games will complete by June 29, 2021.
All athletes need to enroll by July 5. The Olympic Games will officially start
on July 23.
Also in July, FCSB won the Romanian Football
Cup, defeating Sepsi Sfântu Gheorghe 1-nil in the final. CFR Cluj won the
2019-2020 domestic championship in early August. In the last round of the Group
1, CFR won 3-1 against runner-up Universitatea Craiova. CFR then had the
longest run in European inter-club competitions, reaching the Europa League
group phase. Also in August, Simona Halep, world no. 2, won the WTA tournament
in Prague, totaling $202,250 in prizes, after defeating Elise Mertens of
Belgium, 6-2, 7-5. This was the 21st title in Halep's career and her
second in 2020, after the tournament won in Dubai in February, before the
COVID-19 outbreak started. Also in August, the city of Cluj hosted the 65th
edition of the International Athletics Championships. The list of top
performers included Florentina Iuşco, an athlete already qualified to the long
jump event in the Olympic Games. Iuşco won the triple jump event, with a jump
measuring 13.66 meters, then won the long jump event as well, with a jump
measuring 6.43 meters.
In September, Patricia Ţig won the WTA
tournament in Istanbul, Turkey, totaling $225 thousand in prizes, after
defeating Eugénie Bouchard of Canada, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 in the final. Ţig climbed
to the 58th position in WTA standings, becoming the second Romanian
listed in the WTA standings apart from Simona Halep, world no. 2 A week later,
Halep won the third tournament in 2020, winning the €1.7 million tournament in
Rome, defeating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the final.
In October, at the European Rowing Championships
in Poznan, Poland, Romania ranked third in the medal standings. Our athletes
won six medals, four gold, one silver and one bronze. The women's double-skull
crew, the men's double skull crew, the women's pair and the women's 8+1 crew
won the gold medals. The men's 8+1 crew won silver, while the women's
lightweight pair won bronze.
The European Judo Championships were held in
November in Prague. Romania's hopes at a medal were pinned on Andreea Chiţu, a
former European champion and world vice-champion, and our athlete didn't
disappoint. She won silver in the 52-kg category, which was the only medal won
the Romanian delegation.
The month of December featured three European
championships involving Romania's participation. At the European women's
Handball championship hosted by Denmark, Romania ranked 12, its worst standing
in the history of this competition. At the men's European Gymnastics
Championships in Turkey, our veteran Marian Drăgulescu ranked 4th in
the vault event. But the end of the year came with a remarkable performance. At
the women's gymnastics championships, also hosted by Turkey, Larisa Iordache
won two gold medals, in the beam and floor events, and silver in the vault
event. Romania ranked second in the team event.
And that concludes our roundup of the sporting
highlights of 2020, the toughest year for sports since World War II. (V. Palcu)