Romanian successful gymnasts Catalina Ponor and Sandra Izbasa have a lot in common. Their rivalry is regarded as one of the most prestigious rivalries in the history of Romanian gymnastics.

Catalina Ponor turned senior in 2003 while Sandra Izbasa turned senior in 2006. Their first major international competition together was at 2006 European championships. There, they won the same exact number and color of medals.

Ponor won gold on balance beam and bronze on floor exercise, Izbasa won gold on floor exercise and bronze on balance beam.

Nevertheless, their rivalry was not initiated up until after Ponor made her second comeback in 2011.

"You know, even among family members there are conflicts" Catalina told

"After London Olympics, when all of us relaxed, we had a talk about it because there were a lot of gossips that spread like a virus."

"When we opened up and talked about it, we grew closer to each other and we began to be more open and honest with each other. And we also stopped seeing it as a rivalry."

The Romanian gymnast also said that their rivalry helped them during competitions as it motivated them to leave the London Olympics with individual medals.

"After all, even this rivalry has its advantage, now it depends on the point of view. If Sandra was motivated by seeing me as a rival, but we weren’t rivals, we were competing with each other."

"In the gym we didn’t have common apparatuses beside floor, she did vault and floor, I did beam and floor, but at the same time it was something that helped both of us. And the results were seen at the Olympics where we brought individual medals home" 

The 27 year old gymnast mentioned in the interview that when she realizes that 11 years have passed since the Athens Olympics where she won three gold medals and when she sees the younger gymnasts in the gym, she feels a little bit old.

Written by Gigi Farid

Translation of original interview by Alex Maldinescu



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