On Thursday, the Romanian women’s gymnastics team triumphed over Russia winning their first senior European team gold since 2008.
The team of Izbasa, Ponor, Haidu, Bulimar and Iordache showed fantastic form the entire week leading up to the team final. During podium training and qualifications, the Romanians looked confident and poised to challenge their long time rivals for gold. They qualified nearly five points ahead of Russia and continued their strong and consistent performances throughout the team final.
Romania began the competition with three impeccable double twisting Yurchenko vaults. The nearly faultless routines gave the team an early lead and the highest team score on the apparatus. In their first routine of the competition, Russia counted a fall on balance beam from Anastasia Sidorova. Victoria Komova was noticeably nervous during her routine, resulting in several uncharacteristic wobbles. In the second rotation, Romania delivered decent performances on their least successful apparatus, the uneven bars. On the floor exercise, Russia’s Aliya Mustafina had several mistakes including missing the leap out of her first pass and stepping out of bounds on the second. After the second rotation, Romania extended their lead on their way to their best apparatus—the balance beam. Even with a fall from Larisa Iordache, Romania still managed the highest team score on the apparatus. Russia picked up momentum on vault, posting the second highest team vault score of day. Going into the final rotation, Russia trailed Romania by more than three points. Although Russia performed exceptional routines on their best apparatus, the uneven bars, they still couldn’t catch up with Romania.
The Russians finished a close second, less than one point behind the Romanians. With the second highest scores on both beam and floor, Italy sailed past Great Britain after the third rotation, winning the bronze by almost four points.
Romania’s victory over Russia reestablishes the team as a serious contender for gold at the London Olympics. Romania last won Olympic team gold in 2004. Only time will tell if Romania can defeat Russia, China and the USA to win their fourth Olympic team gold.
Photo: Kristal S. Boulden