Friday, August 3, 2012

Olympic Stories- Romanian Gymnastics Veteran Catalina Ponor

Team Romania did not repeat their 2004 Athens Olympics' feat, which was winning a team gold medal in women's gymnastics. But, thanks to the efforts of Catalina Ponor, 24 (she turns 25 on Aug. 20, shortly after the games finish) the team will leave London with a team bronze medal in the sport.

Along with British gymnast Beth Tweedle, 27, Ponor, is one of the oldest Olympic gymnasts competing in London and her achievement is made more remarkable because she completely missed out on the 2008 Beijing Olympics due to injuries, in fact, four years ago, she was actually retired from the sport.

But, in early 2011, she back to train with Ocatavian Balu, who is considered to be one of the best gymnastics coaches in the world. Ponor had a major setback along the way as she was hospitalized as she underwent a medical procedure to correct a heart defect in August of 2011.

Romania's chances of winning gold in the team competition, which ultimately went to Team America, were diminished from because of an injury to one of the team's key gymnasts Larisa Ioardache, 16. But, along with fellow gymnastics veterans Sandra Izbasa, 22, and Diana Chelaru, 18, the team pulled together for a bronze medal.

Russia got the silver, and the defending Olympic champion Chinese team actually finished fourth.

Ponor's honors also include winning four European titles on balance beam 2004-06 and again this year. Ponor hails from the Black Sea port city of Constanta.

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