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Romanian Former Olympic Gymnasts Sandra Izabasa And Diana Bulimar Talk About Their Struggle With Food During Their Competitive Careers

Romanian former gymnast Diana Bulimar hosts a podcast where she meets with members of the Romanian gymnastics.  In an episode that was publ...

Romanian former gymnast Diana Bulimar hosts a podcast where she meets with members of the Romanian gymnastics. 

In an episode that was published last year, Bulimar interviews former teammate Sandra Izbasa where they reveal behind the scenes secrets.

Bulimar and Izbasa competed together at the 2012 European championships, where they won gold, and at the 2012 London Olympic Games, where they won bronze.

Reddit user ThisIsSpata summarized and translated the episode:

Some of the points they talk about:

  • Would they encourage their kid(s) towards gymnastics? Both say that if they noticed their kid had an inclination they would even though they know how much pain it involves, and how much they would hate it, but say the good moments would compensate. Sandra says she's a fan of any sport, and would send her kids to any sport, and would support them through elite if they were good and liked it. She also notes that the coach would matter, but doesn't say if she'd train her kids herself.

  • They talk about their bodies changing through their gymnastics time, and how puberty affected their performance. Sandra says that in Beijing she wasn't in optimal shape cause she was 1 kilo (2 pounds) over (I assume she means over her ideal weight) and she had a hard time managing it. Sandra also says her weight shot up, and she gained 3.5kg between the FX final and the gala from a week after. And that she couldn't get back to her weight after that.

They talk a lot about not being to able to eat what they wanted and that they always craved more food than they were allowed. Didi says after London OG she was on the same diet as the 14 year olds and constantly starving as she was going through puberty. They touch on being questioned by the coaches, about having food in their rooms although they didn't, not being allowed to have water and being afraid that water makes you fat and it will show up on the scales. They also say fizzy water was the best cause it made you less hungry. But that they were never allowed that, even when the moratorium on water was a bit reduced.

  • Sandra talks about going to her second OG in 2012 and how she was stressed from people's expectations. And Diana says she wasn't happy at all to do to the Olympics, because she was too stressed to enjoy anything else. They mention here the coaches were paranoid about being drugged/sabotaged by others, and they were checking all their water bottles and stuff.

  • They don't like the Olympic rings tattoos, Sandra said she wanted to get one but gave up the idea, and both say it's kinda weird that everyone has got it.

  • Sandra talks about feeling very off before the final in London, and she couldn't eat for a few days, and not even get the supplements they were given (vitamins I think?)

  • After London, Didi and Lari went to the sponsor McDonald's, and ordered a lot of stuff that they didn't eat and were super happy to finally get more food. They also talk about being taken on some trip after the competition, but it goes back to food. It seems to me that there's a lot of trauma there.

  • Sandra mentions having some trouble with the Twisties as a junior, although this seems to have persisted through her career, cause she says something like "as you know, I had this weird tendency to add twists to some non twisting elements". And she gives an example from 2003 when she had joined the national team. She talks about having a little ritual before her vault to keep it under control, and she felt very ridiculous and that everyone was laughing at her for it. Didi confirms that is is a very ridiculous thing to do, lol.

  • They talk about a moment in team final in London when Sandra yelled to encourage Larisa on the beam and Didi, knowing Larisa doesn't like the yelling from the girl, shuts her down. Very cute moment, she had a video there as well.

  • Didi mentions that following an injury in 2011 Mariana (Bitang) "made" her into a beam specialist. Didi was surprised that Mariana wanted her to go first on beam in 2012 in the Europeans. And of course Mariana with her great motivational speeches that include shaking her to put her head in the game.

  • They talk a little about Bellu and how it was awkward when it was just him without Mariana. And how it was common for them to be kicked out from the training? I think when they weren't doing well. They talk positively about the coaches and how they were well attuned to their needs when they were tired. But also mention that they didn't have a lot of recovery options, no medical professionals, and very little professional help in general - they talk about Bellu and Bitang putting ice in bags after the training. Then they discuss how all the other programs have invested so much in training, recovery, including focusing on mental toughness and health and Romania should also do that. Didi talks about a new model, where gymnastics should be from passion not obligation, and talks about Nikita and how his style of gymnastics - life balance is the future, as well as giving the example of Americans like Simone.

  • they talk about breaking their achilles tendon. Sandra tells the story of her injury, during a training at this other gym and how she felt it wasn't her day, but hadn't realized she was injured. And at the end she broke her hand as well as her achilles. Didi also mentions off the hand how "coaches don't care if you have a day off, they won't let you off training". And laughs that all her injuries were directly to Vienna for surgery. (Lol at least she can laugh about it)

  • The last thing they talk about is what Sandra's current life, how much she loves her husband, and that she has an office job and is not coaching the kids anymore like she used to. Didi asked her if she would be willing to coach someone/a team for the Olympics. And Sandra says that given what she went through with her training, she thinks that's too much of a sacrifice and akin to the one of the gymnasts (except as a coach you can eat at any time). And that's why she would only coach little girls for rec classes/foundations, that other coaches could build upon. Didi also says the same, she feels like she gave enough to the sport and although people keep asking her and them why they're not more involved, she doesn't have it in her to do anything at the moment past promoting the sport and encouraging kids to do physical education.

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