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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Catalina Ponor, Closure for the Rumanian Star

Por Jack Leyva

When speaking of Rumanian Gymnast stars our thoughts go invariably to the great Nadia Comaneci, who achieved for the first time in the history of gymnastics a perfect score at the Montreal Olympics. But after Nadia, Rumania has had other shinning stars in this sport and that is the case of Catalina Ponor, one of the great international stars of the last fifteen years.

The gymnast chose the Mexico Open, celebrated at Juan de la Barrera Olympic gymnasium, to make her formal retirement, after being at the top of her discipline for fifteen years. A specialist in the balance beam and the floor exercises, Ponor won twenty- three medals in Olympic games, World Championships and European competitions. She won twelve gold medals, most of them in the mentioned disciplines and also in team competitions. Her ascension was quite premature. Being only 16 years old she won three silver medals at the Anaheim Tournament. One at the balance beam, one at the floor exercises and the other one at team competitions. A year later she would get the golden medals in the very same disciplines at the Olympic games in Athens, Greece.

She was in the prime of her career in that year of 2004, establishing her domain at the Continental Championships in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This would be a sort of preamble to what could and eventually happened at the Olympics that took place that year. In Athens her scores were excellent, getting 9.412 in a somersault, 9.762 at the balance beam and 9.750 in floor exercises, thus contributing to the collective victory of her country. Besides, she won two gold medals in her favorite disciplines to become the second woman, the first being her fellow Rumanian compatriot Daniela Viorica Silivaș, to win three gold medals in the same Olympics.

She was only seventeen years old and everybody thought she could become the next phenomenon of Gymnastics for women, but several trainer changes and injuries separated her from the sport from six years, since 2007 to 2011. Her comeback was a very good one. In London 2012, she got the silver medal in the floor exercises and her team won the bronze medal. After fifteen years and being 30 herself, Catalina Ponor has decided to put an end to her career and her good-bye could not have been better, saluted by the Mexican public after winning the silver medal at the all-around competition, only surpassed by the Cuban Yesenia Ferrera. “I am very emotional, I feel happy, wonderful, and at the same time I feel sad because I will not get to see all the love they give me when I compete”, said the Rumanian gymnast.