What do you think caused the problems that the Romanian team had in this morning’s Qualifications?
I feel so sad for what happened, because they started with Catalina Ponor’s injury and she’s not here. I was with the team yesterday when Anamaria Ocolisan injured her ankle. I felt a big panic among the team. And even though you try not to think about it, it’s hard not to think about it. I had a little time to talk with them, and I told them, “You’re here after so many, many hours in the gym. Let’s see the best that you can do. Don’t have something in your mind like, ‘I have to win first or second place.’ Just go out and do the best you can.” But I felt that sense of panic. They all cried yesterday, and that almost made me cry because I felt the hole they are missing. There was a limited amount of girls, and it’s hard to start a competition with that in your mind. So I’m hoping they will qualify (for the Team Final) because the final is a new life for everyone. But I feel sorry for them.
What advice would you offer the Romanians now, after the fact?
I would be like a mom to them and console them, because there’s nothing you can do. You have to wait and see. They might have another chance to show what they are. It’s a tough year for them, and hopefully it will end up with a smile from these World Championships.
What do you think it will take for Romania to rebuild the dynasty that your success helped start?
There are some girls who are not here because they aren’t old enough, but they will be added to the team next year. I can’t think of any reason (for Friday’s problems) other than the tremendous amount of panic that happened in the last couple of days. One gymnast got hurt, then another one got hurt, and the next one is probably not quite ready to replace the other one.
Although you are a gymnast from the past, you are very involved in today’s gymnastics. What changes since your competitive days do you think have benefited the sport?
I’m really happy with this way of organising the World Championships. This is how gymnastics should have been presented all the time, with this kind of huge screen and the arrangements they have made, because the sport deserves this. It seems like a lot of fun for the audience, and the gymnasts enjoy it. It wasn’t like this when I competed. It’s a different atmosphere.
What aspect of gymnastics past would you like to see returned to the sport?
It’s hard for me to say to bring the 10.0 back, but somehow somebody needs to figure out a way to bring it back. We understand how it all changed because they wanted to make a change, but I always said gymnastics has been identified by the 10.0. All the people who love gymnastics but don’t know the rules don’t understand what the numbers mean. We understand because we are part of the gymnastics family. But for the excitement of the people who love the sport, they don’t quite understand what’s going on. Somebody smart should find a way to bring the 10.0 back? Should that be me? I’ll think about it!
photos Janos Schmidt
photos Janos Schmidt