was one of the countries where gymnastics has had a long-standing history. In
the United Principalities capital city, in 1867, a couple of Saxon merchants
hailing from Sibiu and Brasov initiated the Bukarester Turnverein Society, the
Gymnastics Association of Bucharest. The Romanian Central Arms, Gymnastics and
Target Shooting Society was founded in 1876 by Professors Gheorghe Moceanu and Constantin
Constantiniu. The latter body played a key role in the promotion of physical
education and sports. Periodically, the Society organized contests at local and
national level. In the school curricula, gymnastics was included as a
discipline also beginning the 19th century. Gymnastics was a compulsory subject
in quite a few educational institutions countrywide. At competitional level,
Romanian gymnastics had its representatives for the first time at the 1936
edition of the Olympic games in Berlin. Ever since, Romanian gymnasts have been
a regular presence at the Olympics, save for the 1948 edition of the games,
held in London.
absolute first, Romanian gymnasts walked home with medals in 1956, at the
Olympic games in Melbourne. Back then Elena Leustean won the bronze medal in
the floor event; also bronze went to the Romanian women's team, in the nations
competition. Romanian gymnastics' blazing trail actually began two decades
later, with Nadia Comaneci. For the first time ever in the history of artistic
gymnastics, on July 18, 1976, at the Olympic games in Montreal, Nadia Comaneci
got a 10, with an uneven parallel bars exercise. Back in the day her
performance was impressive thanks to its minuteness and force; the exercise is
still a model for today's gymnasts. At that time it was the best exercise ever
to have been performed, reason enough for the referees to admit its perfection.
It was one of the memorable moments in the history of artistic gymnastics.
After the Montreal edition of the Olympics, gymnastics enjoyed the widest
audience for each of the following editions of the Olympic games. According to
the collective mindset, Nadia is still the greatest gymnast of all time. Nadia
Comaneci was the role model for hundreds of thousands of little girls all over
the world, who took up gymnastics at a professional level.
years on, Romanian gymnastics has been experiencing a large-scale crisis. We recall
that ahead of the 2016 edition of the Olympic Games in Rio, no Romanian
gymnastics team qualified for the women's or the men's version of the games.
Romanian gymnastics' dismal run is the
same ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Only three Romanian gymnasts will compete in
Japan. Marian Dragulescu will prove his mettle in the men's vault event.
Joining him will be Larisa Iordache and Maria Holbura, in the women's
all-around event. One of the veterans in the Olympics, 40 year-old Dragulescu is
most likely to walk away with a medal. Dragulescu's record is outstanding. In
the Athens Olympics in 2004, Marian Dragulescu won one silver and two bronze medals. In the World Championships, Dragulescu won eight gold and two silver
medals. Dragulescu won eighteen medals in European Championships, of which ten
were gold, six silver and two bronze medals. The only medal that is missing is
an Olympic gold medal. Marian Dragulescu was designated the best athlete of the
year in 2005 and 2009. In the vault event, an exercise bears Dragulescu's name.
(Translated by Eugen Nasta)