Even with Porgras out, the potential Romanian Olympic team is surprisingly deep. Well, deep is a dramatic overstatement. But they have more capable gymnasts to choose from than what I originally thought.
I’ll call Larisa Iordache, Catalina Ponor, and Sandra Izbasa all locks.
The Romanian press tends to treat their gymnasts like American media treats our celebrities, but after all the hub-bub and hoopla, Izbasa’s latest injury seems to be more of a scare than something totally threatening to her placement on the team.
Her second diagnosis in Vienna seems to confirm the first. (If your Eastern European is sketchy, you’ll need to make use of Google translator).
The fact that Izbasa is training bars (the event that they obviously need most) makes things more interesting. She’s not going to score anywhere near a 15 (even a mid-14 is dubious), but she looks better than what I was expecting.
How ironic that she could end up being Romania’s third bars worker.
The last 2 spots are where things get complicated. We have Amelia Racea, Diana Chelaru, and Diana Bulimar. I’ve crossed Raluca Haidu off the list. If all 7 of these girls are healthy come-London, she’ll only be at second-alternate status.
Chelaru is my least favorite Romanian, but Belu & Bitang could give a shit less about my opinion. She’s accompanying Iordache to this weekends SCAM as her less stylish plus one. To send her to a “major” televised competition must mean that they have some faith in her to make future teams, and that she still fits into the grand scheme of things. Otherwise, wouldn’t they have sent Bulimar – who is virtually unknown to the fair-weather gymnastics fan?
Chelaru has experience (and B & B) on her side. I want to see how she performs tomorrow before drawing any too-hasty conclusions, but vault and floor are really the only two events I see her contributing. Even then, I doubt they’d use her vault or floor in team finals against Ponor, Izbasa, and Iordache. And I think Bulimar is better on floor than Chelaru.
Which brings me to Diana (Bulimar). Maybe it’s her gypsy tan that makes me adore her, but aside from vault, this girl has it.
The plan in Tokyo was to use her bars until she missed a transition, so we were reduced to Haidu’s skanky set in team finals.
She continued to have a rough go at it on beam where she missed a side aerial. But she has the potential (imo) to be one of Romania’s 3-up on beam. The leap @ :48 is super-tricky (and a favorite of the Americans to fudge up), and she gives very little away when it comes to landings. Every element is landed completely upright, with chest high. And what a fabulous dismount:
That would have went 15 + without the fall.
Really, Bulimar, Ponor, and Iordache are the only 3 Romanians I see posting a beam score above 15. Izbasa is steady, but doesn’t quite have what it takes to creep out of the 14’s. She’s a good, confident, lead-off on beam in prelims kinda gal.
Racea has been a European/World finalist on beam, but isn’t exactly the picture of consistency either. She usually ends up giving a few tenths away on something silly, like a leap.
If Izbasa is healthy, Racea won’t vault in team finals. Neither will Chelaru, unless one of the two shows up with a filthy Amanar. I know Chelaru has trained them, but I just don’t see it happening. Racea seems to always be the second-best bars worker (to Porgras, and now to Iordache), but her hit record isn’t the best, even for a Romanian on bars. She’d obviously be the one to sit out floor in prelims, regardless of who makes the team. So is she worth taking?
My earliest prediction for the squad is as follows:
With healthy Sandra…(Iordache, Ponor, Izbasa, Racea, Bulimar alt: Chelaru).
VT – (Bulimar), Racea, Izbasa, Ponor, Iordache
UB – (Ponor), Bulimar, Izbasa, Racea, Iordache
BB – (Racea/Izbasa), Racea/Izbasa, Bulimar, Ponor, Iordache
FX – (Racea), Bulimar, Iordache, Ponor, Izbasa
With Sandra out…(Iordache, Ponor, Racea, Bulimar, Chelaru alt: Haidu).
VT – (Bulimar), Racea, Chelaru, Ponor, Iordache
UB – (Ponor), Chelaru, Bulimar, Racea, Iordache
BB – (Chelaru), Racea, Bulimar, Ponor, Iordache
FX – (Racea), Chelaru, Bulimar, Iordache, Ponor
Stoi! Readers – Care to wage in with your provisional teams?