Our Eurotrash queens (Balkans division) had a torrid time at worlds. Not a single medal, men or women. This hasn’t happened since 1971, although they got nada on the WAG side in 1974 also. Even in the dark days of 2005, Ponor still scraped out a bronze on beam, after about three weeks of proper training and a summer on the piss.
Not this time round though. This has led to all manner of wailing and gnashing of teeth, both within and outside the programme. Bitang is royally fucked off, and reckons she is throwing out everyone except Ponor, Iordache and maybe Izbasa. So there’s been a lot of reading of the last rites.
I think they’ll be ok next year though.
For one thing, they basically chalked this one down to experience. Both Izbasa and Dragulescu were clear medal contenders, but had injuries. They were protected, and did not compete: in Sandra’s case at all, in Marian’s in the finals. This decision was very obviously made with an eye on London. You know Marta wouldn’t have been that sensible- although to be fair, she has about 5 times as many athletes to choose from as Belu and Bitang. I would hate anyone to think I’m not as disgusted by them as by Marta.
And for another, their usual strategy- be consistent, and wait for someone else to fall, would’ve worked this year. If they hadn’t fucked up. That’s very unusual for them: they hadn’t missed a TFs routine since 2007.
Belu historically drills his teams very well, and his teams are extremely cleverly put together. The 2004 Romanian team were an absolute masterclass in how to work 6-3-3: love it or hate it, he owned it. They were like a machine.
There was barely a single ‘wasted’ routine- every high score they had was being utilised towards a medal, and they wasted no time on anything else. Artistically, I’m not in love with that as an approach, but you have to admire the tactical awareness and execution. Others (eg China) tried to play the same game, but with less success. Romania owned it. Plus, if there’s one thing that looks worse than a floor routine over-reliant on shit jumps, it’s a floor routine overly reliant on incomplete shit jumps. If you’re not going to conscientiously object to stupid codes, then pimp it properly.
Now, I don’t think it’s at all realistic to expect them to be able to do this again. Hitting the fuck out of everything and waiting for those with more difficulty to fuck up was a useful tactic under the 10, particularly 6-3-3 when mistakes mattered more. It isn’t, under the open ended system. Less consistent athletes, particularly Chinese and Russians, can throw huge difficulty and still outscore more modest difficulty even when they fall. Romania have particularly been fucked over by the focus on bars. Their weakest event is the easiest one to build up high scores on. Beam and floor, traditionally their fortes, don’t provide anything like as easy a way to set yourself apart from the crowd.
Nonetheless, I’m still not writing them off. With a team of Izbasa, Ponor, Iordache, Porgras and one other, perhaps Chelaru or Bulimar, they might be able to push the top three. I don’t think they’ll be able to medal unless one of the top three does them a favour, but it’s not like that never happens. Bear in mind that Belu has historically been much better at keeping his athletes healthy than Marta.
They also have a lot of potential for individual medals. Some people have tipped Iordache as a potential Olympic AA champi0n. I wouldn’t necessarily go that far, but she’s usable on bars and killer on beam. Her, Ponor and Porgras would be one hell of a rotation. And Porgras actually looked pretty good at worlds, prelims aside.
While she is not what she was before Belu got hold of her, she’s still prettier to watch than the majority of what’s out there. And rumour has is that Ponor is training bars. Words can’t decribe how hilarious it would be if she turned into an actual AAer. I can smell the hysteria already.
With all this in mind, I’m not counting Romania out in 2012 just yet. They have a clever coach and potential for individual medals. And if Mother Russia can still score competitively with crossed legs, and Raisman with flexed feet, why not the girls from Deva?