The 1984 edition of the Olympic Games, held in Los Angeles, the USA, was the event where the Romanian delegation walked home with the greatest number of medals, so much so that Romania came in 2nd according to nations' rankings. Second only to the United States, Romania walked away with 20 gold medals, 16 silver and 17 bronze medals. However, we should not forget that almost all former Soviet Bloc countries boycotted the Olympics, which made it easier for participants to win medals in a number of disciplines.
A member of Romania's women's gymnastics team, Ecaterina Szabo won the greatest number of medals in Los Angeles. Szabo won four gold medals and one bronze medal. With Soviet Union gymnasts being absent from competition, Szabo already ranked as favorite. However, Ecaterina Szabo failed to win the absolute Olympic champion title because she fell while performing her beam exercise. Szabo strongly came from behind in the apparatus pieces finals and won three gold medals, in the vault, floor and beam events, for the latter apparatus piece coming on a par with another Romanian, Simona Pauca. Ecaterina Szabo's noteworthy record in the Los Angeles Olympics provided a crucial contribution to the Romanian delegation's ranking in the nations' competition.
Ecaterina Szabo was born on 22 January 22, 1967, in eastern Transylvanian Covasna County's Zagon commune. She took up gymnastics at the age of 6. Since Hungarian was her mother tongue, Ecaterina Szabo began to learn Romanian once she started her gymnastics training. In the beginning, she was coached by Marta and Bela Karoly. Later on, her training was supervised by Adrian Goreac, Adrian Stan and Maria Cosma, at the Olympic Center in Deva.
Ecaterina Szabo's first notable feat occurred in 1980, in the then very familiar Chumichi Cup in Japan. It was a gold medal won in the beam event. In 1982, Szabo won three gold medals in Romania's International Championships, where she compelled recognition in the uneven parallel bars and floor events. At the European Championships in 1983, Ecaterina Szabo won gold in the uneven parallel bars and floor events. Also in 1983, Ecaterina Szabo won silver in the vault event and bronze in the all-round event.
After her career-best in Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, Ecaterina Szabo proved her mettle in top-flight competitions for another three years. Back then she only won one single notable title, in the 1987 edition of Montreal Olympics' nations' competition. Ecaterina Szabo retired the same year.
Having concluded her professional gymnast's career, Ecaterina Szabo acted as head-coach with the National center in Deva. Afterwards she settled in France, the country where she has been living ever since.
(Translation By Eugen Nasta)