Oh, Bella Catalina!
Romania still remains the central Gymnastics nation. Our friend Caroline who is a Romanian gym fan met Catalina Ponor and wrote this so interesting report.
With a special thanks to Melanie Green who did a fantastic job translation. Well done!
Alla I. (for the Kostiskal team).
Contact Caroline for any comment.
Don't go looking for her name among the lists of former medal winners - you will only find a record of 10th place in her country's National Championships. Six months before Anaheim Catalina Ponor was an unknown. She wasn't even a member of the junior team which participated at the Junior Europeans in Patras in Spring 2002. At that time she was still training in her club at Constanta, by the Black Sea.
"In 2002 Romanian gymnastics was going through a serious crisis," remembers Mariana Bitang, her beam coach, at the French International in Lyon. "A lot of talented gymnasts had retired prematurely and we needed to start again with new girls. We went around the whole country, and looked at many gymnasts, and we selected some of these to come and train with us at Deva." Catalina was among those seen on the journey, and her talent and selfless dedication earned her a spot on the national team.
The World Championships in Anaheim marked the international debut of Catalina, who despite her tender years stands 1m 55 tall. She transformed this first attempt into a masterstroke, being the only female Romanian gymnast to return with three silver medals - one for the team event and two for the apparatus finals on beam and floor. These two pieces of apparatus are this attractive young lady's strong points, something she has recently proved yet again with her gold medal winning performances in the European apparatus finals. One could say that Catalina sailed through the competition, overwhelming her competitors with her style and finesse. She was awarded a 9.725 in the beam final, the best mark of the Championships. "If I had to choose, I think I would like to get the gold medal on the beam at the Olympics - it's on this piece that I have the best chance of winning," she confided to us after her victory at the France International tournament.
With her acrobatic series of Onodi, one-handed backflip into straight somie, plus a series of front salto, backflip, layout somie to two feet and a double piked back dismount, the Romanian has more than enough difficulty to beat her opponents. At just two months before the Games, the Chinese girls had better watch out! However, it's on floor that her athletic prowess and artistry are best displayed and where she could garner the gold.
Even if the Brazilian girl Dos Santos appears to be unbeatable at present (as evidenced by her latest victories on the World Cup circuit), she hasn't heard the last of Catalina, who is working relentlessly to prove the forecasts wrong. "Daiane is an extraordinary athlete," she admits in a calm voice before adding, "However, we do have the same start value, so the battle will be won on execution." And Adriana Pop, who created her choreography last winter, understood that Catalina has a different style to that of the Brazilian, a feminine style.
"At the beginning her trainers wanted her to have a fast-paced piece of music like Daiane's, but quite the opposite was needed - Catalina has her own unique style and it was important that her floor was individually tailored to suit her. We agreed on a piece of Greek music that is well-known in night clubs and we made a remix of it." With this choreography the naturally shy and calm girl has found a medium whereby she can best express herself. With accurate tumbling runs (full in back out, 2 1/2 twist into punch front straight, triple twist and double piked back), a lot of presence and a touch of sensuality, Catalina is certainly on the brink of a great career.
Catalina Ponor profile page 2.
International gymnastics page.
Page (c) Caroline, Melanie, Meredith and Bernard for :
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