Romania's greatest sports competitors, on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020
will celebrate his 88th birthday anniversary. He is two-time Olympic
champion, former canoeist Leon Rotman.
Rotman was born in Bucharest. He was the fourth child in the family of
carpenter Iosif Rotman. While still an apprentice with the Timpuri Noi plants,
15-year old Leon took up training with the Flacara sports club's wrestling
team, and back then Leon earned his place among the hopefuls of the 67-kilogram
category. In 1952, when he was on the shore of Floreasca lake, Leon Rotman
discovered the rowing sports disciplines. Shortly afterwards, he became a
member of the kayak-canoe section of Dinamo Bucharest sports club.
Rotman was very quick to persuade his coaches his place was in a men's singles
boat. It didn't take Leon too much time to win several awards at national
level, so in 1956 he was selected for the team that represented Romania in the
four gold medals awarded in Melbourne, three went to Romanian rowers, who
outperformed their challengers from Russia and Hungary, at that time the
countries that dominated rowing sports disciplines.
Rotman's first win occurred in the 10,000m race. The Romanian had some problems
registering for the race since his boat had a slight twisting, which was
against the rules according to standards. He was given another
boat, which also had a problem, since it was longer than the officially
accepted boat. The latter canoe was simply cut with a hacksaw, then, as soon as
the race started, Rotman, through his force and skill, outperformed the
favorites to winning the 10,000m race, the Hungarians Janos Parti and Istvan
Hernek, as well as and the then Soviet rower Genadiy Bukharin. Rotman's main
challenger, the Hungarian Janos Parti was 80 meters behind the Romanian at the
end of the race.
1000m race, Leon Rotman ranked as favorite and confirmed the predictions, this
time outperforming Hernek. The bronze medal went to Bukharin, just like in the
Melbourne, the third gold medal of the Romanian delegation went to Alexe
Dumitru and Simion Ismailciuc, who won the 1000m double canoe sprint race.
Olympic Games in Rome in 1960, Leon Rotman won bronze in the men's canoe single
1000m race. It was the only medal the Romanian delegation walked away with, at that
(translation by Eugen Nasta)