The Romanian Gymnastics Federation announced yesterday that, although initially submitted as a participant at Euros, Sandra Izbasa will not travel to Moscow.
In an interview for Prosport, Sandra revealed the reason behind her absence: in the period that has passed since she started serious training she had managed to recover her floor, but she recently took a break from training to prepare for her Bachelor degree. The two weeks off that were necessary for her completing the diploma thesis (at the Faculty of Physiotherapy) could not be made-up for.
Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
On her training schedule and athletic life: “At Izvorani is the only gym where I train well and with which I got accustomed. I have more freedom now and I can decide if I stay there or not, it’s all about being rested. I do five hours of training daily, two hours and a half with two hours and a half and I have my Sundays free.”
On the events she was training for Euros: “I would have competed on floor because that was the event I recovered the fastest and I would have competed the same routine as in London (‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’)”…”I don’t know if on vault I could have done as well as at the Olympics, so I would have competed only floor”.
On being in pain: “The pains will always be there, they are a part of an athlete’s life but the important is that I do not have any major ones. I can say that I am pain-free at the moment and thank God for that but I am aware of the fact that the pains can return because of the strain on the body and the ligaments.”
On competing at Worlds: “The pressure will always be there because everybody, including myself, are waiting for good results, I wouldn’t be honest with myself if I didn’t admit it. But I have to know how to convey this pressure into constructive nerves. Of course, Worlds are a target for me. If I manage to compete there, it will be great. But if I don’t, life doesn’t end with gymnastics.”
Sandra seems to be mentioning in the interview that she lives only part-time at Izvorani, and in the rest of the time at home. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. On the contrary, if that was a part of the deal of her continuing gymnastics, by all means it should be the natural course of things. At 23, she should have a say regarding what she does with her free time. This was precisely what the system lacked so far: the means to accommodate the needs of more mature individuals. The centralized system works very well, as long as the gymnasts are in high school. But maintaining the same principles for older athletes must have been part of the problem in their decision to retire at 19-20.
On another interesting note, when asked regarding Worlds, Sandra started talking first about pressure and only afterwards about the possibility of her competing there. I think it must have been equally wonderful and terrible being Sandra Izbasa in the second part of 2012. We have to remember that she was one of only two Romanian gold medalists at London Olympics, and the only repeat medalist from Beijing. This instantly raised her name at legend-status in native-Romania. Moreover, she was the biggest non-football (soccer) star of the year and celebrated by most local media outlets as “Athlete of the year”. So questions like “am I capable of repeating previous successes” and “will I be able to face the backlash of not being as successful, in case that happens” must have weighed a lot in the decision of whether to continue doing gymnastics or not. Probably as much as her physical shape and whether or not her body will be able to cope with the strains of elite gymnastics did.
Sandra chose to continue doing what she loves most in life over the fear of ending her career on a less successful note.
Article and translation: Bea Gheorghisor
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