Romanian star Ana Porgras began her march to Tokyo by winning her third Romanian National title this week in Onesti, finishing ahead of challengers Amelia Racea and Raluca Haidu.
Porgras, who debuted a new floor routine to a classical piece, had the most difficulty on bars (6.2) and the top score on beam (15.845/5.6 D-score) but only vaulted a Yurchenko full. Once she gets her vault up to a double twist, she should be a far more dangeous all-arounder on the world scene.
First year senior Diana Bulimar had the top score on floor (14.95) while comebacker Catalina Ponor, in her first meet since 2007, posted the top number on vault (14.525 for a 1.5 twisting Yurchenko). Ponor also had the second best score on beam (14.775) behind Porgras and posted a 14.625 on floor (5.6 D-score, second highest of the meet on floor), which makes a compelling case for her inclusion on the world team.
Racea was the leader on uneven bars (14.65), trailed by 2008 Olympian Gabriela Dragoi (14.575). Reigning Olympic floor champion Sandra Izbasa and multiple European medalist Diana Chelaru opted to sit out of this meet for health reasons (word is that Izbasa has been nursing a sore Achilles tendon) but both are expected to be on the world team if healthy.
Like the U.S., Romania feels deep on every event except bars, where Porgras carries the team, aided somewhat by Racea when she hits. Like Martha Karolyi, Romanian coaches Octavian Belu and Mariana BItang will need to decide whether it is worth putting a bars “specialist” like Dragoi on the World team if she’ll only contribute one event.
In the absence of junior sensation Larisa Iordache, Maria Rauta won her first junior national title, ahead of newcomers Bianca Ciobanu and Andreea Puiu. Surprisingly, there was no sign of either the impressive Madalina Blendea or Irina Paun among the top six in the junior division.
Men’s: Flavius Koczi’s 24th birthday was a good one indeed: The reigning European champion on floor picked up the Romanian men’s title, scoring an impressive 89.6 to place ahead of Marius Berbecar (88.4) and Cristian Bataga (87.75).
Romanian men’s star Marian Dragulescu came out of “retirement” for the second time and finished fourth, posting 87.0. Likely part of the reason for Dragulescu’s retirement was that retired athletes in Romania are paid a pension much higher than the stipend current national team athletes receive. If the Romanian men, ninth in Rotterdam, are going to qualify a full team to London, then Dragulescu, the 2009 World Champion on vault and floor exercise, will be instrumental in that process.
Full results: Click here to go to the Romanian Gymnastics Federation’s website.
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