Category Archives: Romanian gymnastics team

Rare Romanian photos

Four 1990s-era Deva pics you’ve never seen before

Plus: Making fun of the Americans

I’m sitting here watching the NBC version of the prelims at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and I’m getting tired of seeing Elise Ray and Jamie Dantzscher fall on their unprepared asses, so I figured I’d come over here and try to do something useful.

As for the U.S. Sydney Olympic team, I’ve already done all kinds of useful stuff, such as:

  • Gilligan’s Island and the 2000 U.S. Olympic team READ IT
  • Maloney, Ray and Stack to join other marginals in the USAG Hall of Fame READ IT
  • Fixing the 2000 U.S. women’s team once and for all READ IT
  • U.S. women get their claws on the 2000 bronze medals READ IT

Earlier today, Deluxe (screen name) sent me four AWESOME candid photos of behind-the-scenes action in Deva back in the Milo/Gina era.  These are very rare photos, and it’s unlikely you’ve ever seen them before.  I’m going to put them here so you can all see what real gymnasts look like when they’re just being themselves.

Physical training in the mountains

Here we see Milo, Gina Gogean and Octavian Belu along with a bunch of gymnasts who I should be able to recognize but many of whom I can’t, during what Deluxe describes as “physical training in the mountains.”  Gina is on the far right; Milo is seated; Belu is in back on the left.

The Romanian coaches obviously had no problem with dragging their girls up to the top of some deserted mountain where it was colder than shit and making them train.  It was good for the girls.  It made them strong and healthy and resilient.

Dawes before the hair problem.

For contrast, while all that was going on (probably pre-1994, based on the presumed ages of Milo and Gina), Dominique Dawes was tripping around Kelli Hill’s warm, comfortable home, saying, “If my mom doesn’t stop giving me a bunch of shit, I’m never going back home, plus I’m going to do something really stupid to my hair in about six years and make an international ass out of myselfl!”

Deva in the early 1990s

In this photo, we have all kinds of gymnasts loitering outside a house.  Ones I can identify include Maria Neculita, front left; Gina, seated in the middle; Cristina Bontas, on Gina’s left; Vanda Hadarean (I think), front right.  It’s hard to tell if that’s Milo in the striped shirt.  The one in the white turtleneck to Milo’s left looks like Ionela Laoies.

I swear to God I think she looks like a guy.

The Romanians are always so cute and usually serious-looking, but what strikes me most of all is how it always looks like they got their clothes at the Salvation Army.  Everybody’s mis-matched, nothing blends, none of the girls are dressed anywhere near alike.

For contrast, dumbass celebrity Nastia Liukin has her own fashion line, any item in which probably costs more than every item the poor Romanian girls were wearing on that porch.  If you want, you can read a Nastia interview in Seventeen magazine, where she talks about herself, as usual.

Onesti, post-revolution years

This photo appears to have been taken in 1990 or 1991, based on Milo’s presumed age.  She’s seated on the right, looking like her usual tomboy self during those years.  As usual, everybody’s dressed in thrift-shop clothing or hand-me-downs.  I’m ashamed to say Milo is the only one I can identify.  Deluxe identifies Vanda Hadarean third from the right in the denim skirt.

The weeds and the crumbly curb make it seem like the girls are on a trip to a haunted house.  Maybe they’re looking for Count Dracula.  Maybe they’re looking for the ghost of Nicolae Ceaucescu.  Or maybe they’re looking for a ride to America to see if all the rumors they heard about lax training and half-ass discipline are true.

Amanda, Shannon and Shawn, hanging out poolside in store-bought clothes.

Contrast with this photo of America’s hottest gymnast, Amanda Borden; America’s best gymnast, Shannon Miller; and America’s most dimwitted gymnast, Shawn Johnson.  The girls are in back of a really nice house, probably getting ready for a day of swimming and fun in the sun.  Notice how all their clothing items match and probably cost more than the house the Romanian girls were posing in front of.

Fruit-picking, or just a day off

In the final photo, we see seven gymnasts in the early 1990s gathered in what appears to be some kind of orchard.  At first glance you might think it’s a gang of illegal alien girls picking fruit in California while their parents either fuck or deal with agents from Immigration and Naturalization Services.

But if you look closely, you’ll see that none of these girls appears to be a Mexican whore, so the only other possibility is Romanian gymnasts.  There’s Milo in back on the right, clowning around and telling us with her fingers how many useful gymnasts the U.S. had produced up to that point in time.  Vanda Hadarean is on the left in the cluster of four, wearing, like the others, clothes that nobody else wanted.

Unmagnificent fashion.

Contrast with the bunch on the right, all of whom also look like they spent a grand total of about $4.50 for their outfits.  Plus Moceanu is either fat or pregnant, Kerri looks like something out of a Bruce Lee movie, and Jaycie looks like Bret Michaels from the band Poison.

Wrapping it up

I hope you enjoyed these rare photos of the girls from Deva.  It’s not often you get to see Romanian gymnasts from that era doing something other than gymnastics.  All those photos were taken during times of political unrest, not long after Ceaucescu and his wife were murdered on Christmas day in 1989.

Fortunately Romania has survived the fall of communism, but unfortunately life is still not easy for most of the citizens because they haven’t figured out how to do what America has done to convince people living in poverty that it’s all okay as long as they have a 95-inch television and a few Facebook friends.


PS: This is my 299th post.  Anybody have any ideas for number 300???

Spot the Romanian gymnast

A 2005 show has a bunch of them in it

Help me fill in the blanks

Mariana Bitang and Octavian Belu.

On this AngelFire site, there are seven pages of clips from a Romanian TV show taped in September 2005.  From what I can gather, it’s the retirement party for Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang, when they couldn’t take any more and turned the reins over to Nicolae Forminte.

If you like Romanian gymnastics, you’ll enjoy watching all the clips.  NOTE: you can only navigate pages 2 through 7 from the main page, so you’ll have to go back to it when you finish each page’s clips.  They play on WMV or whatever your default player is.

A very fun clip from the show has been posted on YouTube.  It shows a woman singing a song – “Honey Honey,” coincidentally, the same song someone used to make a montage about Andreea Munteanu, who I wrote about here.

Belu and Bitang dance, and then all kinds of gymnasts go on the dance floor and dance, too.  I’m not the best at recognizing retired Romanian gymnasts, but I did recognize a few.  I would like you to comment with the names of the ones I missed, so we can recognize all of them.

I spotted

Simona Amanar – lavender dress

Andreea Raducan – patterned shirt, jeans

Lavinia Milosovici – tan pants and jacket

Gina Gogean – white jacket, black pants

Maria Olaru – black pants, black long-sleeve shirt

Alexandra Marinescu – long red dress

Oana Ban – avocado-green (or dark gold) top, black pants

Also, if anybody knows anything about this show, tell us about it.


The girls of Atlanta

A reasonable comparison of the 1996 Americans to the Romanians

More proof that medals tell only part of the story

The three U.S. gymnasts in the All-Around in Atlanta placed 8th, 9th, and 17th.  The three Romanians in the All-Around placed 2nd and two tied for 3rd.  That’s just one of numerous indicators as to where the superiority lay at the 1996 Olympics and why the Magnificent Seven’s winning of the Team gold medal was only possible in an Olympics that had everything in their favor.

On the same hand, the imbalance in talent also shows why Romania could have won Team gold, with all things being equal, including the venue, the sleeping arrangements and injuries.

I wrote “What REALLY happened in Atlanta” to focus on the three above-mentioned elements.  Now I want to talk about the personalities themselves and show why girl vs. girl, the Americans weren’t the best team in the Team final – as proven by their sorry showing in the All-Around and several other factors.

First of all, for those of you who aren’t familiar, here are the players:

AMERICANS: Shannon Miller, Dominique Dawes, Kerri Strug, Dominique Moceanu, Amanda Borden, Amy Chow, Jaycie Phelps.

ROMANIANS: Lavinia Milosovici, Gina Gogean, Simona Amanar, Alexandra Marinescu, Mirela Tugurlan, Ionela Loaies.

Romania had just six gymnasts, because the seventh, Ana Maria Bican, was injured prior to the start of the Games.  It was a blow to overcome, in theory, but in reality, four of the Romanians who did compete were enough to beat all seven of the Americans, had the competition been held in a neutral setting.

Mirela Tugurlan: filler for Romania, starter for just about everybody else.

Shannon Miller was the best gymnast on that team and the best gymnast America has ever had.  Romanians Mirela and Ionela were basically “team filler” (which in Romanian-speak means “among the best gymnasts in the world”), but Shannon was clearly stronger than either of those two.

What about Alexandra?  Never mind that idiots were calling her “The Next Nadia.”  Hell, people were calling Moceanu “The Next Nadia,” and Dominique was barely “The Next Vanessa Atler.”  Alexandra had only been at Deva for a short time prior to the Olympics, so she was untested.

Yet even for her tendency to loose focus because of beatings and mental torture from her coaches, she was a damn good gymnast.  The youngest on the team at 14, many believed going in that Alexandra stood a fair chance at taking the top prize – and maybe she could have: she qualified for the All-Around only to have coach Octavian Belu replace her with Simona Amanar.

However, next to America’s first string, Shannon, Romania’s fourth string, Alexandra, would not be able to hang in our simulated match-up.  She simply didn’t have the experience or the skills.  Against Dawes, Alex would put up a good fight.  Against anything else on the U.S. team, Alex takes it all.

Mirela and Ionela, while lost in the shadows of teammates Alex, Milo, Gina and Simona, and opponents Shannon, the two Dominiques and Kerri, would not be lost in the non-shadows of Jaycie, Amanda or Amy.

Before I go on, I want to say that I don’t claim that the Mag 7 didn’t deserve their Team gold medal or that the Romanians deserved anything more than the bronze they got.  I think the 389.225 the U.S. received and the 388.246 the Romanians received were both as fair as any scores can be when given by judges.

The Three Musketeers

But don’t let the Team scores influence you in your estimation of talent.  Milo, Gina and Simona were as powerful and skilled a trio as any trio any team has ever fielded.  Any way you slice them and any way you compare them, they were at least equal to and in most cases superior to any three of the Americans.

Let’s look first at Olympic and World Championship medal count over the careers:

Milo: 19
Gina: 20
Simona: 17
Shannon: 16
Dawes:  8
Kerri:  5
Moceanu: 3

I’m not factoring in the slew of medals the three Romanians won at European Championships – a competition for which American gymnasts have no counterpart.  And I’m not saying that medal count alone is the determiner of a gymnast’s quality, but from that standpoint, my point here is more than established.

In other words, going in to the Olympics, a normal person would say the only way the Americans could beat the Romanians in the Team competition would be for one of the Romanians Ionela, for instance – to whip out an Uzi while up on the podium and start spraying the audience.

TIM: I, uh . . . I, uh . . . I, uh . . .
ELFI: I was going to say the same thing, Tim.  The judges don’t like mass murders during these kinds of competitions.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Loaies gets a zero score for this.
TIM: The last time I saw anything like this was in Casino – and that was just a movie!  Oh, shit – DUCK!
(Bullets fly toward the commentators, and Tim, Elfi and John hit the floor and crawl under their table.  Still they don’t shut up.)
ELFI: Actually, I’m surprised the Romanians put somebody with so little talent on their team.
JOHN: It almost wasn’t a team, because back in June, Gina Gogean had to have an emergency appendectomy.  She was on a train to Bucharest, where she only visits five times a year . . .

Shannon could hold her own against most of the world’s top gymnasts.

I think if you took Shannon at her peak (my opinion 1992-1994), she would likely with ease overcome Alexandra at her peak in a head-to-head match race on all four events, as I indicated earlier.  Shannon would maybe/maybe-not edge out Milo at her peak.  But Shannon could not consistently beat Gina or Simona at their peaks under any circumstance.

The rest of the U.S. team would be laughable against any of the Three Musketeers.  Dawes might win a few points, and Kerri and Moceanu had the capability of putting up a patriotic fight, but none of those Americans would be ahead in the final standings.

As for Amy, Amanda and Jaycie, putting them against Milo, Gina and Simona would be like putting the Mudlick, Kentucky, Little League All-Stars against the New York Yankees: fun for the All-Stars, novel for the Yankees, but not a game you’d want to waste scorecard paper on.

The All-Around

Shannon won the beam title, beating out #’s 1 and 2 from the All-Around.

In “What REALLY happened in Atlanta,” I gave some possible explanations as to why and how the U.S. took the Team gold medal – and why Romania didn’t.  But a few more days of acclimation to the city and its rowdy people paid off for Romania in the All-Around and put the musketeers back into the competitive condition they were accustomed to.

Crybaby Lilia Podkopayeva won that gold medal, and deservedly so.  As most gymnastics fans know, the Romanians aren’t known for producing All-Around champions as much as they’re known for winning team and individual event medals.  Still, Milo, Gina and Simona almost had the whole All-Around podium to themselves. (The way the Romanians did four years later.)

Lilia took first place with a total score of 39.255.  Gina was right behind her with 39.075.  Simona and Milo tied for third with 39.067.  Shannon self-destructed on floor and was lucky to place 8th.  (Had her name been “Viktoria Karpenko,” she would have placed 22nd.)  Moceanu managed to climb to 9th place – and could have placed higher except for her crap beam score of 9.600, which was the lowest among the top 12 finishers.

Dawes, like Shannon, self-destructed on floor and wound up in 17th place.  Based on Dom’s reaction to her floor fall, I got the impression that somebody (Kelli Hill) had fed her a string of fairy tales prior to beginning the competition, and Dom actually thought she had a chance to win a medal.

Gina, shown here at the 1996 Chunichi Cup, didn’t change much from competition to competition.

Shannon, of course, had the ability to win a medal, so her coma-level breakdown after stumbling around on the floor (9.475 – the next on the list with a lower floor score was – surprise – Dawes in 17th) made at least some sense.

It’s sort of like when Carly Patterson beat Svetlana Khorkina.  Sure, Carly got the scores, and on that night, Carly could be argued to have been the better gymnast.  And if a medal is all that counts, Carly managed to do what Khorkina never could.  But if true talent and quality are what count, Carly and Khorkina should never be mentioned in the same breath, because Khorkina was to Carly what my friend Aimee’s Porsche Carrera is to a beach cruiser.

Winding it up

So there you go.  Now, next time you watch the Atlanta Olympics, you’ll know a little more about the Americans and the Romanians, and you can cheer for the Americans, because they did do something pretty spectacular.  But in the back of your head, you’ll be saying, “Yeah, but what would have happened if . . .”

Unfortunately, there’s no place in gymnastics for “What if.”  That’s why I write this website.  Speaking of which . . .

I would love to hear comments from anybody with a different opinion.  But be smart – don’t say shit like, “Are you kidding?  Gina Gogean sucks plus she’s a robot.”  I’ll publish the comment, but I’ll comment back with something just as idiotic.  And mine will be funnier.


Octavian Belu responds to recent death threats

Coach “warned” not to attend 2011 European Gymnastics Championships

So he assembles team of bodyguards to protect him

Coach Belu has a lot on his plate as the 2011 European Championships draw closer.

DEVA, ROMANIA – The fearless leader of the Romanian women’s national gymnastics team was shaking in his Reeboks in late February, when three death threats showed up in his mailbox.  But head coach Octavian Belu, 60, is doing quite well now.

Under the cloak of darkeness in the middle of the cold March nights, Belu has been training what he calls his “Romanian Virgin Guard” – a team of six young women whose sole objective is to protect the coach from foulplay and bodily harm at the upcoming 2011 European Gymnastics Championships.

Death threats had coach shaken up

“I get letters from maniacs saying they gonna kill me if I show up to Europeans next month,” Belu told reporters Wednesday night in the empty National Training Center gym in Deva, Romania.  He would not allow any photographers into the gym.

“It shake me up,” he said.  “Is worst thing I read since retardat Marinescu accuse me and Coach Bitang of trying to cook her in oven like Hansel and Gretel.”

Belu said he got the idea for his Virgin Guard from Libyian leader, Muammar al-Gaddafi.

“Gaddafi is another great leader like me,” Belu said, “and he protect himself by surrounding with trained killer that are all females and vaginas.”

When all the reporters stopped writing and looked at him, Belu laughed and said, “Virgins, I mean.  Not vaginas.  English still not too good.”

Gaddafi has been famous for years for traveling with an entourage of pretty female bodyguards whom he calls his “Amazonian Guard.”  Belu believes armed security details are needed for all important international public figures and more so in his case because of the threats to his life.

“With my Romanian Virgin Guard, I am safe to go anywhere,” Belu told the reporters.  “This girls, they are trained to spot assassin and gun him down before he even get off a shot at me.”

Belu wouldn’t say where he found the six girls who make up his protection team, nor would he give their ages or any background information about them, saying they are “mysterious, like Ninja.”  He also would not allow them to be seen without their uniforms, which consist of olive-green military fatigues, purple berets and black full-face masks.

Virgin Guard members seem rather . . . small

Belu on Wednesday morning talks to Raluca Haidu about curious powder burns on her hands.

At 11:15 Wednesday night, Belu marched his troops into the gym.  The girls of the Virgin Guard were all very short and tiny and hardly seemed capable of putting up a serious fight should Belu need protection.  Each girl had a gleaming semi-automatic rifle slung over her left shoulder.

“Here they are – what do you think?” Belu said as the Guard stood at a wiggling attention pose on the edge of the floor mat.

A reporter asked Belu if it was true that the Virgin Guard and the girls on the senior gymnastics team had never been seen together in the same place at the same time.

“Just coincidence,” Belu said.  “Virgin Guard train at night.  Virgin team – well, virgin except for Izbasa and Haidu, cause I can’t keep my eye on them twenty-four hours – they train in the day, so they tired at night and sleep.”

The tallest member of the Virgin Guard covered her mouth and stifled a yawn.

“Anyway, what you look at here is highly trained team of sharpshooter girls that put down their lifes to save mine,” Belu said.  “And that’s another thing – I change my name now, like Gaddafi did.”

The Libyian leader’s official title currently is “Brotherly Leader and Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.”


Belu explained that he wants everyone to refer to him now as “Fatherly Leader and Trainer of the Fourth of April Great Revolution of the Romanian Gymnastics Team for World Dominance and New World Order,” or FLTSAGRRGTWDNWO, for short.

Two of the girls in the lineup began to giggle.  Belu walked over and slapped them both in the back of their heads.

“So like I say,” Belu went on, “that is my new official title around here.”

A reporter asked about one of the Guard’s left hand, on which was a wrapping of gauze tape similar to that used by gymnasts to protect their palms while performing on the uneven paralell bars.

“No, that’s cause she getting carpal tunnel from too much practices on rifle range,” Belu said as he walked over to the girl.

He bent down, whispered something in her ear, pinched her ear lobe, making her scream, then walked back to the reporters.  The girl surrepetitiously removed the guaze wrapping from her hand and tossed it behind her, off the side of the floor.

“Okay,” Belu said to the members of the press, “got enough news?  Good.”  He turned to his bodyguards and said, “Dismissed!  Now go to potato field for hand-to-hand combat practice!”

The six girls saluted Belu and marched out of the gym.

Gymnasts are missing

Belu began, “It shows you how dangerous gymnastics is getting when you–” but was interrupted by fellow coach Mariana Bitang entering the gym from the door opposite the one the Virgin Guard had marched out of.

“Hey – where all the girls?” Bigang screamed.  “I just do lights-out check, and every goddamn bed is empty!”

“Nothing to worry about,” Belu told her.

“Nothing?  Nothing when nobody sleeping when they suppose to be?”  Bitang stopped when she saw the reporters.  “What the hell is this?”

“Anyway,” Belu said to the press, “is time for you to go, cause as you can hear, me and Coach Bitang, we gotta go find a bunch of errant gymnast.  Probably down in cafeteria trying to traffik food.”

Bitang yelled, “I check there already!”

Belu said, “Then probably in TV room watching Ghostbuster.”

Bitang yelled, “Bullshit!  Nobody watching Ghostbuster at this hour in the night!  Sandra and Raluca probably try to hook whole team up with boys in town so we go to European Championship with six pregnant rinoscerous!”

The 2011 European Gymnastics Championships will be held April 4-10 in Berlin, Germany.  Here is the event’s official website.


Ceausescu shot dead like a dog 22 years ago Christmas

Nicolae Ceausescu was both a “dictator” and a “president”

Does that mean a girl can be a “gymnast” as well as a “celebrity”?

Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, on trial, moments before the end.

Christmas Day this year will mark the 22nd anniversary of the execution of Romanian dictator and president Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena, so I thought it would be appropriate to write something about it here.

(In journalistic circles, this kind of headline/first paragraph/video that follows combo is often referred to as a “dramatic lead.”  It can also be called “I don’t know how to get right to my point, so I’m going to start with something that’s virtually irrelevant but eye-catching.”)

Here’s the execution

“Dictator” vs. “President”

President Kennedy, praying before he died. (Long before - I didn't mean he was getting ready to get shot in this photo.)

In America, we don’t have dictators, but we do have presidents.  Two of them that I know of were assassinated – Abraham Lincoln (d. 1865) and John F. Kennedy (d. 1963).  I think at least one other was assassinated, but I can’t remember who.  I know Ronald Regan was shot, but he didn’t die from it.

However, “dictator” and “president” are just English words we made up, and they can often be interchanged, unlike the words “gymnast” and “celebrity.”  For instance, many Americans compared the likes of Ceausescu, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and others with President George W. Bush and felt it appropriate to do so.

“Celebrity” vs. “Gymnast”

At least Aurelia Dobre waited until gymnastics was over to become a celebrity.

Other people compare celebrities such as Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson with gymnasts such as Daniela Silivas and Aurelia Dobre, a comparison that most knowledgeable gymnastics fans consider faulty at best, idiotic at worst.

Gymnasts, for example, train in a gym and practice their bars, beam, vault and floor routines.  They also engage in strength and flexibility training.

Throughout a given year, they compete against other qualified gymnasts in tournaments such as the Olympics, the World Championships, and O’Reiley’s Bar & Grill Invitational.

Celebrities are more versatile and enjoy such activities as making Wheaties commercials, designing fashion lines, dancing with stars, doing floor routines to Lady Gaga music, throwing out first pitches and selling taco sauce.

Additionally, celebrities love having their pictures taken and making people believe they enjoy having sex, or at least would be a fun person to have sex with.

Gymnasts rarely have time for sex, unless you’re Olga Korbut or a great American gymnast who was married during the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials but is sick right now, so I’m not going to make fun of her.  (I meant she was married when the Trials took place, not that she got married while they were going on.)

“Silver” vs. “Gold”

Lucky they even let these people into the arena.

Romania emerged from its political unrest in late 1989 to send a team of gymnasts to the World Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, West Germany.  It would be the country’s last major competition before Ceausescu was executed.

Gymnasts returning in Stuttgart from the 1988 Olympic team included Silivas, Dobre and Gabriela Potorac.  They were joined by fellow gymnasts Cristina Bontas, Lacramioara Filip and Eugenia Popa.

In the Team competition, the best the Romanian girls could do was a silver medal behind the Russians, same as in the Olympics the previous year.  None of the girls medaled in the All-Around.

They woke up in the Event Finals, with Silivas winning gold on bars, beam and floor, and Bontas taking a silver on vault.

For some celebrities, the words silver and gold are interchangeable when referring to medals.  A good example is how the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, which just recently was awarded the team bronze medal for that competition, could rightfully say, “We didn’t care if it was gold, silver or bronze.  We felt lucky they even let us in the arena!”

But for gymnasts, such as the girls on the 1989 Romanian national team at the World Championships, “silver” and “gold” carry two distinct meanings: gold means you won, silver means you didn’t.

“Killed” vs. “Assassinated”

This is what happens when you get pushed off a building, whether you're a politician or a normal person.

While for Nicolae Ceausescu the words “killed” and “assassinated” mean essentially the same thing, especially now, they are different.

Anybody can be killed.  For example, if you shove a man off a 40-story building, you will have killed him.  If the man you shove is a president or dictator of a country, however, it will be called an assassination.  You will then be an assassin and a celebrity.

Typically assassinations are performed on politicians, and the assassination is said to have occurred at the time the wound is received, not at the time the individual dies from that same wound, which could happen hours or even days later.  (Example: Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, but he didn’t die until April 15.)

If an individual dies quite a while after receiving the wound in question, it usually is not regarded as an assassination.  For instance, in 1981 U.S. President Ronald Regan was shot by a man named John Hinkley.  Regan died in 2004 of complications from Alzheimer’s Disease.  Therefore, it would be inappropriate to say that Hinkley assassinated Ronald Regan.

Ceausescu was assassinated and died on Dec. 25, 1989.  Like Lincoln and Kennedy, Ceausescu was shot.  Unlike with the two American presidents, Ceausescu’s shooters had been authorized to do the job and had plenty of time to aim.

Fair vs. Fixed

"Yeah, but this one is REAL silver. Yours is gold-plated and gonna tarnish, probably before you find some guy drunk enough to fuck you."

A final pair of words to look at is fair and fixed.  Fair means “honest and impartial”; fixed, in this sense, means “organized ahead of time, usually with malicious motives.”

The All-Around competition at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta saw Lilia Podkopayeva emerge as the gold-medalist.  This was a fair decision on the part of the judging panel, because while there were many worthy athletes in that competition, Lilia was clearly the best that night.

The decision for awarding the gold medal for the All-Around at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, was fixed.  It’s still unclear whether the judges were paid to inflate Carly Patterson’s scores and/or reduce the scores they gave to Svetlana Khorkina, or if satanic Terin Humphrey may have had a hand in the outcome, but either way, the All-Around results were fixed and could actually be called an assassination.


(Signing off so abruptly can be called “ending on a high note without any explanation.”  It can also be called “ending it now because I have totally lost track of whatever point I was trying to make, so it’s best to quit before I go further into oblivion.”)

Ex-hookers of Deva

Introducing seven moms

Which reminds me of a joke . . .

A guy walks up to a prostitute.

GUY: What can I get for $100?
PROSTITUTE: Oh, you can get every piece of me for that.
GUY: What can I get for $50?
PROSTITUTE: Um, you can get my luscious mouth.
GUY: What can I get for $25?
PROSTITUTE: Um, you can get both of my hands.
GUY: Well, all I have is $10.  What can I get for that?
PROSTITUTE: (Turning her head and yelling.) Hey, Mom, get over here!

Madame Ezmerelda's girls, from left: Maria Olaru, Andreea Raducan, Gina Gogean, Simona Amanar, Lavinia Milosovici, Claudia Presecan, Catalina Ponor, Monica Rosu.

I don’t know what it is about former Romanian gymnasts, but they sure do dress . . . spectacularly.  In Romania, I guess that’s called “normal.”  In America we have several other names for it.

Of course I’m joking about these ladies being ex-hookers (or current hookers).  Still, we might as well use the photo while we have it, so let’s enjoy a pleasant little . . . fashion show with your host, Madame Ezmerelda.  We’ll meet each of the ex-hookers, and guys like the one in the joke above will have the chance to pick the perfect date for the evening.

(I hardly ever make fun of the Romanians, so give me a little slack here.)

Welcome to the meat market

Hello, all you handsome, virile mans!  Madame Esmeralda here, inviting you to have looks at this stunning display of girls we got here.  Bet you can’t easy make up your mind, so I gonna show you what you need to know about them.

First, Maria is wearing a 1700’s-era pilgrim-like costume dress that is resembled after American settlers who go over there to slaughter all the Indians then have Thanksgiving with the ones still remaining.  She may look prim and proper, but wait till you see her in action!

Next, Andreea is slim and ready in sexy blue denim dress that look like something you find on Miami nightclub whore who trying to make you think you not gonna get your hands on her but you will, as soon as you fill her full of roofies.  Andreea’s heels are adjustable, so you can use them for all kind of interesting thing!

For those of you men that like your ladies a little more bigger, Gina is wearing a custom dress from Ballantinu of Bucharest, that renown designer who go to prison last year for using spear to kill neighbor’s ox.  Gina not as big as no ox, but she more than enough woman for you scrawny men!

Next, Simona got herself into a sheer black nightgown from Viktoria Secret.  Problem is, when Simona dressed like that, not too many secrets left standing.  Simona not left standing very long, too, because customers go crazy for woman who dress for bed even when she not anywhere near it!

If any of you men have sickness, you need Nurse Milo.  Here Milo is wearing outfit we steal from hospital so she look like a nurse.  She sit by your bed and give you medicine, rub your feet, take your temperature, and do all kind of other thing to you.  You gonna be amazed at Milo’s bedside manner!  (Gonna be amazed how much she cost, too, considering how old she is!)

Look like it’s party time, and Claudia is tonight’s party girl.  She has on a eatable black-and-white skirt from Omar of Onesti.  This skirt specially designed with low carbs and no fat and plenty of protein derive from red meat from antelope.  It contain plenty of iron, so in case you get anemic, you’ll be able to keep up with Claudia on the long night ahead!

Next, Catalina is all dressed up and ready for a trip in your yacht.  Yes – she pretending to be a little sailor girl.  What’s that?  You don’t got no yacht?  No problem.  Catalina take you in the bathtub and blow your foghorn real good.  Plus she good at making sandwiches for after the cruise!

Finally is Monica, who unfortunately is pregnant right now, so she on limited duty.  That’s right – her duty limited to bedroom, bathroom, closet, hallway, living room, front yard, back yard and tree house in yard across the street.  This girls don’t get time off just cause somebody forget to put on raincoat!

This is my girls in 2004 when we go to Norway and bilk old stupid man out of 25,000 lei. He wanted Japanese schoolgirl costume, but Oana say she ain't gonna do it cause Japanese are stupid, so we go for the wilderness maiden look.

So now is time for you to take your pick of my lovely girls.  If you already went to legitimate hooker girl and she tell you:

$100 for all of it

$50 for mouth

$25 for hands

and $10 for mom, well, you in the right place with these mamas I got here for you.

Have a good time, and make sure you coming again!

Madame Esmeralda



Witch’s curse turns Deva upside-down

Romanian witches accidentally transform Raluca Haidu into Rodney Dangerfield

Witch leaders say tax spell must have backfired

Raluca Haidu when she was Raluca Haidu.

DEVA, ROMANIA – As if Romanian gymnastics coaches Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang don’t have enough to worry about with getting their team in shape for the 2012 Olympics in London, now they’ve got a comedian on their hands.

In January, a group of witches in this country protested proposed new income tax laws by tossing poisonous mandrake root into the Danube River.  The idea was to cast a spell on government officials to induce them to repeal any legislation that would force practicing witches to declare their income and pay taxes on it.

Coaches in an uproar

On Monday, the spell seemed to have transferred to 16-year-old Romanian gymnast Raluca Haidu and turned her into the late American comedian Rodney Dangerfield.

“Is bunch of nenorocit de rahat! (goddamn bullshit!),” coach Bitang said in a tense interview at the National Gymnastics Training Center in Deva Wednesday afternoon.  As she spoke, Raluca stood atop a beam and entertained her teammates with pithy one-liner jokes.

Gymnastics coaches Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang argue about Raluca outside the gym.

“Never seen nothing like it in all the years of gymnastics,” Bitang said.  “Last Monday morning, I tell her to get butt over to bars or I whack her with clipboard – the usual stuff I tell her all the time – and next thing you know she says she don’t get no respect, and one time she went to beach and the tide go out and it don’t coming back till she go away.  What the hell is this conspiracy?”

Head coach Belu added, “It’s gotta be witch’s spell, because Raluca, she don’t know no jokes, and when she do tell one, is not even funny.  Now she say she go to medic and tell him, ‘Every time I get up in morning and look in mirror, I want to throw up.  What is wrong with me?’ and medic say, “Don’t know, but your eyesight is perfect!”

Belu laughed, and Bitang slapped the back of his head.  “You laugh!  Don’t laugh at her insurgence!”

Belu said, “Hey, woman – take it easy!  She not gonna really throw up!”

Bitang yelled, “If she throw up in this gym, I drag her outside by hair and pour water on her!”

The energy was re-directed

Camelia Dragu, 28, a Romanian witch and part-time gypsy who was among the group that initiated the mandrake spell against the government, said spells have been known to backfire.

“It’s possible that the energy that had been direct for government pig officials float through the air and accidentally wind up in that little girl,” Dragu said when told of Raluca’s unusual behavior.  “Leaders of our coven believe something backfire.  Which mean we got a bigger problem than kid telling jokes: we might have to pay taxes, and we got no money!”

A toaster and a radio . . .

Rodney Dangerfield never got no respect.

In the gym on Wednesday, Raluca stood on the beam in her blue leotard, adjusting an imaginary neck tie and making her eyes bug out.  Her teammates stood in a group before her.

“My parents never liked me,” Raluca said in a New York American accent.  “My first bath toys were a toaster and a radio!”

The other girls laughed.

“You kidding?  I know I’m not sexy.  Before we were married, my wife was scared of the dark.  Then she saw me naked – now she’s scared of the light!”

The other girls laughed harder, and Bitang threw a clipboard across the floor.  “You not a stupid married man, Raluca!” she screamed at the top of her lungs.  “You a stupid sixteen-years-old conspirator!  Got no wife to see you naked!”

Raluca ignored her coach and continued.  “What a childhood I had.  When I took my first step, my old man tripped me!”

Belu shouted, “You gonna get a lot worse than trip if you don’t get off beam and start work on vault!”

“You kidding?” Raluca said.  “I told my doctor I swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills. He told me to have a few drinks and get some rest!  I don’t get no respect – no respect at all, you kidding?  My wife and I were happy for twenty years.  Then we met!”

Raluca’s teammates busted up laughing.  Gymnast Diana Chelaru, who is 17, said, “Raluca – tell about the time condom broke!”

“Hey, hey!” Bigang yelled at Diana and began fanning her face as if she were about to faint.

Belu ran his hands through his thinning hair.  “Okay, got to admit Raluca somewhat funny,” he said.  “But we running a gymnastics team up here, not no comedy central.”

“Yeah!” Bitang yelled.  “Raluca, you got ten second to get off that beam and go on stupid vault, or I gonna tie you up in utility closet and not feed you for three day!”

Raluca turned to Bitang and said, “Hey, buddy – why don’t you save your breath?  You’ll need it later to blow up your inflatable date!”

A previous spell seems permanent

Witch Camelia Dragu, third from left, says spells can backfire.

Dragu the witch said it is unlikely the spell will last more than a week, at which time Raluca will lose her Rodney Dangerfield persona and go back to being a normal teenager.

“Same kind of spell backfire about three year ago,” Dragu said.  “We cast a spell to make member of local coven more sexy for her husband.  Next thing you know, American gymnast Sacramone start thinking she a pornographic star all of the sudden.  Problem is, that spell stay on Sacramone, and wife here in coven still not too sexy.”



The great Rodney Dangerfield in action.

The Beast of Revelation touches down in Romania

Will America utterly destroy Romania’s gymnastics program?

Or will Belu and Bitang act as the gods they once were and resurrect it?

Hopefully Mariana can keep her nerves under control this time around.

Obviously, something has happened to Romanian gymnastics.  Move away from the issue, and see it clearly: since the fall of Communism in that country, the poisoned influence of America has been seeping in like deadly gas through the cracks of a death chamber’s floorboards.  It took awhile, but it looks as if the once-mighty team from Deva is now fully distracted and heading toward actual incompetence.

Will the re-entry of coaches Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang be enough to resurrect the girls’ spirits and focus?  Maybe.  The problem is, the coaches, who recently returned to take over the helm, are facing a Beast that had just begun to rear its head in earnest when they left in 2005.

Introducing the Beast of Revelation

"It is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Rev. 13:18

Most serious thinkers know that everything America touches turns to shit, and nowhere is this more evident than in gymnastics in Romania.  When Communism moved out, American styles and fads and time-wasting, wheel-spinning activities moved in, powered by the real “Beast” of the Bible’s book of Revelation: the American Media.

“And he [the Beast] causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Rev. 13:16-18

Nobody understands what all that means – especially the Christian church, which is Satan’s right arm on earth if it’s anything – but it’s not hard to see how the writer of the book of Revelation, a possible psychopath named Saint John of Patmos, understood the inevitability of a power rising and taking control of the entire world.

That’s America.  Who else?  Fucking India?  Not unless the world is going to be run by call centers and video-game designers – which, now that I think about it, is theoretically possible but improbable.

And unfortunately, the Beast will be defeated, and unfortunately I live in the country that is the Beast, so hopefully the defeat won’t happen till after I’m long gone.

“Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

“And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:7-11

Blight in Beijing

Nicolae Forminte negotiated with his girls when he should have put the screws to them.

Look what happened to the Romanian team in Beijing: they won TWO medals, total.  And Russia, where Communism also fell and American influence also seeped in, won NONE.  When was the last time you can remember Russia not winning a single gymnastics medal at an Olympics?  The answer is never, because before Beijing, it had never happened.  And TWO medals for Romania?  What the fuck?

In Romania, you can put some of the material blame on then-head coach, the relatively soft-hearted Nicolae Formenti [who I am NOT implying is in league with the Beast].  But the heaviest material blame must fall on the gullible gymnasts themselves.

When you turn girls loose to freely suck up the influence of the American Media and the way of life it demands, when you tell them that they are now individuals and have rights, you destroy training intensity and personal responsibility.  The inmates take over the asylum, and hell breaks loose.

Bitang was hospitalized over it

It used to be one of those "Nobody's happy unless mama's happy" things. THAT is how you run a gymnastics team.

But it didn’t START in Beijing.  It started after Sydney.  The ruinous changes, which included girls like Rotund Raducan running around fat and out of shape and complaining that they were too sick to train, put coach Mariana Bitang in the hospital.

She complained of being “stressed out” and had to receive IV injections, because that was the only way the medicines would any longer work.  Her doctor told she had better get out of Deva muy pronto.  [That’s Mexican for “fast.”]

In an interview from her sickbed in September 2001, Mariana plainly outlined the state of Romanian gymnastics and how it had affected her.  You can read the whole interview here, along with my commentary.

One of the problems was – and still is when compared with previous generations, not as many Romanian girls want to be gymnasts.  Before America drained much of that country’s national pride and its ability to think clearly, almost every Romanian girl wanted to grow up and be like her heroes – Nadia, Daniela, Ecaterina, Milo.  Now the little girls’ heroes are fucking Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and cell phones.

In interviews elsewhere, both Mariana and Octavian Belu complained that the talent pool over there is dwindling.  Romania doesn’t have a large population to begin with [about 21.5 million] so when you start introducing role models other than gymnasts to the youth, you wind up with a severe shortage of girls who want to fly and an overabundance of those who want to sit on their asses and get fat, like kids in the nation of the Beast.

A slow but predictable slide into oblivion

Belu: Don't let his "grandpa" look fool you. I got a feeling if a gymnast needs to get introduced to the back side of a clipboard, this is still the man to do it.

The overthrow of the government of Communist president Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989 began the downhill slide.  I’m not a supporter of Communism, but I do support what it allowed Romania to accomplish in its gymnastics program.  The teams managed well enough through the 1990s, because you don’t immediately kill an imbedded philosophy just because you blow the dictator’s head off.

But as the millennium turned, things began falling apart.  Yet even still Romania had some strong teams.  The team in Athens was actually spectacular.  But the foundation had already cracked, and it was just a matter of time until it fell apart, which it did by the time Beijing rolled around.

The ONLY way to train a consistent championship-level gymnastics team is for the COACH to be in charge of the program.  Not the country or the cops or the civil rights nutcases or the parents, or, God forbid, the gymnasts.  The COACH.

And it is the coach’s responsibility to monitor what his/her girls do OUTSIDE of the gym, which SHOULD be a fairly easy task in Deva, since all the gymnasts live right around the corner from it.  But the monitoring obviously hasn’t been done.  Will Belu and Bitang do it?

The next rounds

I honestly believe B&B can win some rounds.  I don’t believe they can win the war with the Beast.  No one can, because America’s crushing world dominion and inevitable fall is destiny. It was prophesied by some fruit-loop who sat in exile on the Isle of Patmos 2,000-some-odd years ago and wrote a letter off the top of his screwball head to seven churches.  Turns out he was just insane enough for the cobwebs of normal human thinking to be brushed aside and for the light of revelation to shine within him.

So Belu and Bitang have several rounds, at least, and I’m pulling for them with all my heart, because I can’t take another Beijing in London.

“And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

“And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.

“And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.” Revelation 16:1-5


What REALLY happened in Atlanta

Why did the U.S. win?  Why did Romania lose?

Let’s not pretend reasons didn’t exist

“She is dealing with the pressure, dealing with all the noise.  We’ve all had to compete in front of a rowdy crowd – maybe not as rowdy as this one, though.”
Tim Daggett at 7:40, during Mo Huilan’s All-Around bars in Atlanta.

I’m happy for the 1996 U.S. gymnastics team that it won the gold medal in Atlanta.  I don’t think I’m alone in saying that those seven girls were such a pleasure to watch.  They were the best “team” (in the true sense of what that word means) that we’ve ever put into a gymnastics competition, that’s for damn sure.

The cell-phone-addicted under-25s who think Shawn and Nastia started gymnastics would disagree, of course, but who cares what that crowd thinks, even though with less active parentage I could have been one of them.  (Thank you, Mom and Dad!)  The “Magnificent Seven” were the best, and they made America proud.

1996 was a parallel back to 1984

Simona Amanar in Atlanta.

But there were a few problems with the Big Win in Atlanta, making what happened in 1996 not all that different from a boycotted Olympics, such as the 1984 Mary Lou Retton Party, for example.  It doesn’t matter how good Mary Lou might have been, because the legitimacy of her record will remain in question until the earth collides with the sun, and every gymnastics fan who knows anything knows that.

Go on forums, look at comment boards, read knowledgeable gymnastics fans’ lists of their favorites and who they think are/were the best gymnasts.  Rarely will you find the All-Around gold-medalist from the 1984 Olympics on those lists.  Save for Wheaties memorabilia and four phenomenally lovely daughters, Mary Lou might as well not even have existed.

I don’t know exactly what Romania’s major malfunction was at the Los Angeles Olympics, but they should have waltzed right in and taken everything in sight.  It should have been Ekaterina Szabo on that Wheaties box, not Mary Lou.

I have nothing personal against Mary Lou – in fact, I’d rather listen to her talk than any other damn thing America has put behind a commentator’s microphone.  I just don’t believe she ever did anything in her career to give her the credibility to be mentioned alongside history’s greatest women gymnasts.

Why in a perfect world America had no business winning gold in 1996

Which brings us to Atlanta.  There are three reasons the U.S. won and Romania didn’t in the Team Finals in the 1996 Olympics, and none of the reasons have anything to do with Romania being less talented or less prepared than the Americans, or the Americans being more of both/either.

Put simply, it wasn’t a level playing field, just like Los Angeles wasn’t, although for different reasons.  And that’s fine, because the world is full of un-level fields and surprises, and nobody gets any guarantees.  Let’s just keep that in mind and not start thinking of Miller, Moceanu, Dawes, Strug, Chow, Borden and Phelps as the second through eighth comings of Christ.  Because they were not.

The “Magnificent Seven,” minus Amy Chow.

The three reasons the U.S. beat Romania

1. Sleep/energy problems/the Village

Centennial Olympic Park bombing: 2 dead, 111 injured.

Unlike the U.S. team, the Romanians were housed with the rest of the cattle in the Olympic Village.  What’s life like for athletes in the Village during an Olympics?  Loud.  And really loud for the athletes in Atlanta, thanks to a bombing in Centennial Olympic Park on July 27.  That was after the Team Finals, but still – if security was so half-ass as to let a maniac in with a fucking pipe bomb, what other kinds of disruptions were allowed to go on?

Romanian coach Octavian Belu complained quite a bit about the noise and parties, particularly because his team had drawn the shit early-morning slot for the Compulsories.  He actually complained about a lot of things in Atlanta, but nobody listened to him: what does Belu know about managing gymnasts during an important international competition?

Yes, it was the bad luck of the draw that Lavinia Milosovici, Gina Gogean, Simona Amanar and company had to get to bed early in order to get up early.  As with “minor” injuries, rotation schedules are something gymnastics teams just have to live with and deal with.

But even under the best of circumstances it’s not easy getting six high-strung, wound-up, under-fed, hormonally questionable teenage girls to go to sleep in a strange environment.  When you’ve got parties raging in the dorms and throughout the entire Village, it’s got to be practically impossible.

Unavoidable, I know.  Yet, put the Romanian team in a secluded, quiet and security-guarded dormitory at, say, a local university, and it would have been a different story.  But that’s not exactly the point I’m making.  Here is the point:

No bombings allowed on the peaceful Emory University campus.

The U.S. team stayed at Emory University and surely got plenty of rest.  If the Americans had stayed in the Olympic Village like everybody else, the field would have been more level.  They wouldn’t have got any sleep, either – which the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. coaches knew, which is why the gymnasts stayed at Emory.

Wikipedia says, “A report prepared by European Olympic officials after the Games was critical of Atlanta’s performance in several key issues, including the level of crowding in the Olympic Village . . .”

2. Crowd problems and mass hysteria inside the Georgia Dome

Well, what can you say about Americans that hasn’t already been said (and reported, and broadcast, and filmed, and maligned, and laughed at)?  Given the slightest provocation, Americans will be loud, unruly, boisterous, disrespectful and obscene.  Anybody reading this who lives in America, like I do, knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Another thing Americans are known for is their propensity to follow and not lead.  And when you cram 36,000 followers into one arena, there’s going to be a lot of following.  “Mass hysteria” is the psychological term used to describe this phenomenon.  Here are a few definitions, just so you know I’m not making it up.

Mass hysteria: a condition in which a large group of people exhibit the same state of violent mental agitation.

Mass hysteria – other names include collective hysteria, Mass Psychogenic Illness, or collective obsessional behavior – is the sociopsychological phenomenon of the manifestation of the same or similar hysterical symptoms by more than one person.

Mass hysteria: the social transmission of a belief that produces excessive emotion amongst a group of individuals. Often a rumor, misunderstanding or misinterpretation that induces anxiety.

Now, before anybody starts accusing me of being anti-American, let me say that I am all for cheering for the home team.  And no crowd had more reason to cheer than the Atlanta crowd as their women’s gymnastics team edged closer and closer to doing something no U.S. women’s gymnastics team had ever done before.

The crowd was doing what it had a right to do, and I’m not saying it shouldn’t have.  But when the crowd is made up of people who are already prone to loud, unruly, boisterous, disrespectful and obscene behavior before they even entered the arena, you’re going to have some problems.

Belu knew what was happening.  His girls couldn’t hear their floor music.  They couldn’t concentrate.  The animalized home-team atmosphere created a HUGE advantage for the U.S., and a disadvantage for every other team trying to perform in the middle of the spectacle.

Home field advantage is important.  Ask any team in any other sport.  Ask the Las Vegas odds-makers how many points a team gets simply because it’s playing at home.  Of course there was no way to prevent home field advantage in Atlanta, since Atlanta is part of the home field, but it’s another of the elements that greatly affected the outcome of the Team Finals.

3. Injury problems

Coaches Mariana Bitang and Octavian Bellu.

I won’t use Milo’s sprained ankle as an excuse, because the norm in gymnastics is to compete with injuries.  Probably half the girls in Atlanta were injured in some way or another.

But for the Romanians, losing Andreea Cacovean and Claudia Presecan to injuries before getting on the plane and then having Ana Maria Bican wreck her knee on a practice vault the day before the start of competition were three unexpected and disastrous events. wrote, “With their awful luck, it was amazing that the Romanian team won a medal at all; to the Romanian gymnasts, however, a bronze medal was defeat.”

And regarding Ana Maria: “Had she not been injured . . . had she been able to compete in Atlanta . . . had the Romanians had an alternate . . . who knows what might have been.”

Yeah, who knows.  The event format in Atlanta was seven on a team, six compete, one watches, five scores count.  Because of injuries, the Romanians had to compete all six of their gymnasts, because six was all they had.  Might sound trivial, but it wasn’t.

Let’s just look at the Ana Maria side of it and respectfully forget about Andreea and Claudia.  Although Ana Maria was slotted to be one of three “opening acts” (along with Mirela Tugurlan and Ionela Laoies) her presence was critical in order for Belu and fellow coach Mariana Bitang to be able to make an appropriate rotation among the three “lesser talents.”  Two of the three girls were going to have to compete every event, and the coaches needed it to be the best two of the three for each apparatus.

The core of that team was relatively healthy and supremely talented: Milo, Gina, Simona and Alexandra Marinescu.  The ideal remaining three were to have been Andrea, Claudia and Ana Maria (as best as I can figure – it’s not like I sat down with Belu at a Starbucks and hashed all this out, because he’s got his hands a hell of a lot fuller than I do right now).

Because of Ana Maria’s absence, Mirela and Ionela had to be used on every event, which wreaked havoc with the overall game plan.  I won’t estimate how much Romania lost, overall, in points because of this, but in a sport where hundredths or thousandths of a point can separate gold from fourth place, it was significant.


So here’s the point to this long-winded analysis: Hold the Games in Bucharest and avoid American mass hysteria.  Put the Romanians in a private dorm and give them plenty of sleep.  Put the U.S. team in the Olympic Village.  Schedule the Romanians in the evening Compulsory rotation and put the Americans in the morning rotation.  Give the Romanians the seven healthy girls Belu and Bitang had been planning on for months (possibly years, knowing them).

Of course that scenario is ridiculous, but I want you to ask yourself: What would have been the outcome if all that could have been accomplished?  The answer is obvious and immediate.

The Romanians would have won their first of three straight Olympic team gold medals, and it’s very possible that the added energy, motivation and lack of undue stress and anxiety would have allowed Milo, Gina and Simona to whitewash Lilia Podkopayeva right off the medal stand and over to the sidelines, where she could watch the winners with everybody else.



Here’s the most beautiful fluff piece NBC ever managed to put together.  It’s about the Romanian team in 1996 and the shit that country had been through and was still going through after the 1989 revolt.  This is a full segment of the competition; fluff is from 0:00 to 4:35.

Comments on the American crowd
On this video segment, which is also linked above, where Tim Daggett talks about the “rowdy” Georgia Dome crowd, YouTube commenters had plenty to say.  Keep in mind this is from the All-Around, and Roza Galieva competes in this segment, so a lot of “crowd-noise” comments are related to Roza’s woes.  But the principle is the same.  (Roza’s FX followed by her breakdown starts at 3:58.)

Atlanta…what a shame ..what a circus!Americans were “magnificent” just because they have competed at home!This has disadvantaged many other teams !…and American spectators .. uh … I would call the most uncivilized of all Olympic history!Sure you’re entitled to your own team but not damaging support the evolution of other teams!American arrogance has been observed in transmission Team competition!We had to watch only gymnasts host country!A real circus! [Emphasis mine.]

That is so true, and that is why USA should never have the olympics again. From my point of view it was a big lack of respect, I agree you can cheer your team, but not sabotage the others [Emphasis mine.]

You are so right…….I mean in China it was so normal!

i feel dreadfully sorry for roza because she has put alot of effort to concentrate o her floor routein and she has worked so hard everyday for 4 years straight and her AA dream was crushed because a home crowed wouldn’t sit down and shutup whiles everyone was performing, they go on for like 2 minuits wasting their breath for 1 person i find that pretty unfair [Emphasis mine.]

Another superior being – Jesus – never got much respect either, and they crucified his ass, so in that sense Roza is lucky. But I fee the same way.  She worked so hard to come back and show the world she deserved being in the AA and the crowd just got out of control for Shannon.

Fucking american!! this is just too bad for Roza!!! She is a winner!!

i really don’t like usa people, such bad habit““roza““““`you are the winner

I don’t think the commentators would have been so accepting of the ‘rowdy’ crowd if it was affecting US gymnasts in a non-us venue….

Yeah, I agree. I get cheering for your country and all, but poor Roza, especially having the perform while Keri was being taken off. She was just not at all lucky with floor.

I find that croud absolutely disgusting do they care about anyone else! I mean i understand your happy she stuck it but come on! I root for americans but i really do think that is horrible

yeah i know! it wuzn’t her fault it wuz the croud! they need 2 respect other competing gymnasts!!!

Americans in this games didn’t have any respect for the other gymnast!

It is scandalous that lack of respect…

that is so disrespectful though… poor girl. good thing she didn’t forget her routine. i feel so bad for Roza because it must suck to know that no one is watching you and no one cares what you do it that crowd [This is a powerful observation; emphasis mine.]

Beacuse the noise was FOR the American Girls!!!  And in 96 USA team did very well beacuse all the people was with them…see when they do BB or UB: there was SILENCE and RESPECT… [Excellent point.]

Your favorite Romanian gymnastics team

Which Romanian gymnastics team do you like best?

Results from an online poll and a review of each team’s performance

A poll has been running on Fangygymnastics, a primarily Romanian language gymnastics site, asking: Which Romanian WAG team is your all-time favourite?

I liked the idea of the poll so much I spent a ton of time recapping the Romanian results at the Olympics for each team.  The percentage of poll respondents voting for each team is at the top of each section.  Send your favorite Romanian team in the comments box.


1988 Seoul Olympics: 8 medals

Daniela Silivas and son. Obviously the hair was not genetic.

Daniela Silivas, Gabriela Potorac, Aurelia Dobre, Camelia Voinea, Eugenia Golea, Celestina Popa

In what many consider the most exciting gymnastics performance in Olympics history, Daniela and Gabriela led the team to a silver medal.  They were beaten for the gold by Russia 395.475 to 394.125.  The team won seven other medals.

All-Around: Silver, Silivas
Vault: Silver, Potorac; Bronze, Silivas
Bars: Gold, Silivas
Beam: Gold, Silivas; Bronze, Potorac
Floor: Gold, Silivas


2004 Athens Olympics: 6 medals

Catalina Ponor and the man who made her.

Catalina Ponor, Daniela Sofronie, Alexandra Eremia , Monica Rosu, Oana Ban, Silvia Stroescu

During an era of flux and unrest for the Romanian team, Catalina and Daniela led the team to a gold medal by beating the U.S. 114.283 to 113.584.  The team won five other medals.

Vault: Gold, Rosu
Beam: Gold, Ponor; Bronze, Eremia
Floor: Gold, Ponor; Silver, Sofronie


2000 Sydney Olympics: 5 (6)* medals

Andreea Raducan, post-Sudafed.

Andreea Raducan, Simona Amanar, Andreea Isarescu, Loredana Boboc, Claudia Presacan, Maria Olaru

At the most screwed-up gymnastics competition in Olympics in history, Andreea Raducan and Simona led the team to a gold medal by beating Russia 154.608 to 154.403.  The team won 4 (5)* other medals.

*All-Around: Gold, Raducan; Silver: Amanar; Bronze: Olaru
Vault: Silver, Raducan
Floor: Bronze, Amanar

* The gold medal in the All-Around was taken from Andreea and given to Simona, because Andreea tested positive for pseudoephedrine, a decongestant that hinders athletic performance by making you nervous and jittery.


2008 Beijing Olympics: 2 medals

Looks like Steliana Nistor could use some Sudafed.

Sandra Izbasa, Steliana Nistor, Anamaria Tamirjan, Gabriela Dragoi, Andreea Acatrinei, Andreea Grigore

At an Olympics where age didn’t matter, Sandra and Steliana led the team to a bronze medal, finishing behind the United States 186.525 to 181.525.  In its worst showing since 1972 in Munich, where it won nothing, the team in Beijing won one other medal.

Floor: Gold, Izbasa


1976 Montreal Olympics: 7 medals

Nadia Comaneci's perfect 10 has grown considerably since Montreal.

Nadia Comaneci, Teodora Ungureanu, Gabriela Trusca, Gorgeta Gabor, Anca Grigoras, Mariana Constantin

In the first “Perfect 10” Olympics, Nadia and Teodora led the team to a silver medal, losing out to the Soviet Union 390.350 to 387.150.  The team won six other medals.

All-Around: Gold, Comaneci
Bars: Gold, Comaneci; Silver, Ungureanu
Beam: Gold, Comaneci; Bronze, Ungreanu
Floor: Bronze, Comaneci


1996 Atlanta Olympics: 8 medals

Alexandra Marinescu is now a DJ in Bucharest.

Gina Gogean, Simona Amanar, Lavinia Milosovici, Ionela Loaies, Alexandra Marinescu, Mirela Tugurlan

The devil went down to Georgia, and the best Gina and Simona could do was lead their team to a bronze medal, losing to Russia by a satanically narrow margin of 388.404 to 388.246.  The team managed to exorcize the devil and win seven other medals.

All-Around: Silver, Gogean; Bronze, Amanar and Milosovici
Vault: Gold, Amanar; Bronze, Gogean
Beam: Bronze, Gogean
Floor: Silver, Amanar


1992 Barcelona Olympics: 5 medals

Lavinia Milosovici at what some believe was the peak of her career.

Lavinia Milosovici, Cristina Bontas, Gina Gogean, Vanda Hadarean, Maria Neculita, Mirela Pasca

In the Gutsu/Miller/Bogi didn’t show up/Kim fell off the beam Olympics, Milo and Cristina led their team to a silver medal, losing out to the Unified Team 395.666 to 395.079.  The Romanian team won four other medals.

All-Around: Bronze, Milosovici
Vault: Gold, Milosovici (shared with Henrietta Onodi)
Floor: Gold, Milosovici; Bronze, Bontas (shared with Tatiana Gutsu and Shannon Miller)


1980 Moscow Olympics: 7 medals

Emilia Eberle: one of the many girls who were almost destroyed Bela Karolyi.

Nadia Comaneci, Emilia Eberle, Rodica Dunca, Melita Ruhn, Dumitrita Turner, Cristina Grigoras

In an Olympics that was boycotted by the U.S. and numerous other countries, the results were about the same as if it hadn’t been boycotted by anybody, with Nadia and Emilie leading the team to a bronze medal behind the Soviet Union, 394.900 to 393.500.  The team won six other medals.

All-Around: Silver, Comaneci (shared with Maxi Gnauck)
Vault: Bronze, Ruhn
Bars: Silver, Eberle; Bronze, Ruhn (shared with Maria Filatova)
Beam: Gold, Comaneci
Floor: Gold, Comaneci (shared with Nellie Kim)


1984 Los Angeles Olympics: 8 medals

Hey! That is NOT funny!

Ecaterina Szabo, Simona Pauca, Laura Cutina, Cristina Grigoras, Mihaela Stanulet, Lavinia Agache

As payback for 1980 (like it mattered), numerous Eastern-bloc nations boycotted this Olympics in which Ecaterina and Simona led the team to a gold medal, beating the United States 392.200 to 391.200.  The team won seven other medals.

All-Around: Silver, Szabo; Bronze, Pauca
Vault: Gold, Szabo; Bronze, Agache
Beam: Gold, Szabo and Agache
Floor: Gold, Szabo

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