This month has been a huge blow to the world of gymnastics. My heart still aches when I think about the hardworking, talented girls of Deva. The risk of learning and performing difficult tricks have taken a toll on the girls’ consistency. This prompts me to think of Gina Gogean. What if the girls trade their inconsistent complexity for relatively safer routines?

Gina Gogean, though mostly known as “boring” or “robotic”, was in fact very successful being conservative. At World and Olympic level, she had a 90% success rate (18/20) in the Team Finals (18 out of 20), 78.1% success rate of making the individual finals (25/32, uneven bars excluded), and 60% (15/25) success rate of medaling. This impressive record made her extremely valuable in Team Romania. Gina may not be the best gymnast difficulty or artistry wise, but she had all that is needed, and she delivered all she had most of the time when she was competing. And the kicker is? She delivered well during big times.

Consistency is the largest selling point of Gina’s brand of gymnastics. Apart from that, the tough nature of Gina is very admirable. The time when she gave the world a huge scare with a horrible fall on beam in the 1994 Team Prelims, it took her only a few minutes to pull herself together before going back up and perform again. 

Her quick recovery from fall was impressive. In a documentary about the Magnificent Sevens, Bart Conner pointed out that the success of Romanian gymnastics was due to the fitness training. 

When normal people injure themselves, they would go to the doctor, but the Romanians keep on going. Now that many of the top Romanian girls are injured or resting, maybe it is time to put the girls’ health before intensive training of high-risk skills, and focus more on having them hit when it counts. 

In an era of only having 2 gymnasts in each individual finals, what Romania needs is to get more solid gymnasts like Gina to build the team up. Sometimes playing safe is more important than taking risk. After all, if you cannot hit your routines, how can you qualify your team? And if you cannot bring a team to the competition, how can you truly maintain the label of Romanian Gymnastics?

Written by Valerie Theodora Ko



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