Thursday, 20 September 2012

Queen Ponor: 2004-2012

Catalina Ponor (Cata) is one of Romania's most celebrated gymnasts. She comes from a country that made history in gymnastics with the greats such as Nadia Comaneci, who at the age of 14 scored the first perfect 10 in the summer Olympics of Montreal in 1976.

Nadia's perfect bar routine in Montreal. She went on to win three golds, one silver and one bronze.

Cata began training at Deva under coaches Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang in 2002, at the age of 14. Two years later, she became the most decorated gymnast of the Athens Olympics where she won 3 gold medals, one for the team competition and two for individual competitions on balance beam and floor exercise.

Ponor's Gold Medal Balance Beam performance in Athens

She moves with such fluidity and finds the balance between athleticism and grace. Traditionally Romanian gymnasts are very solid on beam, it is a rare occasion to see them fall. Cata attacks her routine and holds nothing back, which is why she is a champion on this event.

Eight years later, at the age of 24, she competes for the second time in a balance beam final at the Olympics (she missed the 2008 Beijing Games altogether). After a slightly shaky yet respectable performance, she received the same score as America's Aly Raisman. Due to a tie-breaker she found herself in 4th place. She managed to gather her courage and rallied for a 2nd place finish and a silver medal in the floor exercise final, an amazing achievement for her!

Cata competes in the floor final at the London 2012 Olympic Games, silver medal performance

Immediately after the London Olympics, Catalina announced her retirement. She has since reconsidered this decision and plans to resume training until she decides what will come next. Hopefully she can continue the Romanian legacy in gymnastics, and continue to be a fabulous team leader and fierce competitor. She has inspired many (myself included!) with her amazing comeback, it would be awesome to see her continue for a few more years. She's got more to give!

Article by Imogen Browne (@ImogenMireille)

No comments:

Post a Comment