A look at the situation of Romanian sports at a time when this area has seen little investment.
Romania’s biggest sports achievements date back 20, 30 and even 40 years ago, at a time when Romanian sport was in its Romantic age and when being talented was enough. However, sport has evolved just like any other field, and no matter how big one’s talent is, it no longer guarantees excellence. Investment to encourage high-level performance has dropped and prospects are grim. The lack of funding has deepened the decline of Romanian sports, an idea supported by sports journalist Razvan Boldis:
"The economic crisis has indeed dealt a heavy blow to Romanian sports which, truth must be told, never received the money it needed. With the ridiculously small amounts of money federations receive at present, Romanian sports cannot be reinvigorated. It can only survive, that’s the best thing it can do. Without money, you cannot have infrastructure, you cannot motivate athletes, and neither can you keep experienced managers, who have started to leave the country. Today high-performance sport is a very expensive business. A business Romania can no longer afford, unfortunately. “
However, it’s not only the lack of funds that is to be blamed for the decline of Romanian sports. The drop in Romania’s population and the lack of media promotion are also to blame. Razvan Boldis:
"The final data of the 2011 census revealed that in the last two decades, Romania’s population has dropped by 3 million, today numbering a little over 20 million people. In sports terms, this translates into a lower selection pool. While this is not a crucial aspect, it does contribute to the decline of Romanian sports. The poor media promotion for sports, the Olympic disciplines included, as compared to football, is another problem. “
The achievements of Romanian athletes in other sports, few as they are, rarely make the headlines of sports publications, which are mainly interested in football. This privileged status enjoyed by football is not necessarily backed by notable international performances but, on the contrary, based on collateral topics mainly related to scandals. In such a hostile environment, where mediocrity holds pride of place, little wonder that only Romanian gymnastics and fencing have managed to secure a place among the world’s elite. Unfortunately, athletics, handball, boxing, rowing, weightlifting and wrestling, sports disciplines which have earned Romania almost 180 Olympic medals, have been unable to keep the pace with the world champions. What can the solution be, we asked Razvan Boldis:
"Public-private partnership, as a financing source for sports, is a solution which in other countries has worked. This could be an excellent solution to rescue team sports, which Romania practically no longer has. Another idea would be to channel the available money only into those sports disciplines where we stand chances to win a medal. Of course, such a solution might eliminate lots of other sports, but it might help maintain the elites. Also, I believe we need a national strategy and more national competitions. We should not forget that competition motivates people and is highly educational, especially for children. “
At the latest Olympic Games hosted by London in 2012, Romania ranked 27th. Results were below expectations, but they reflect the country’s frail economic potential at present.