Romanians Ponor & Dragulescu expected to return to competition


It was indicated online some weeks ago that Romanian Olympians Catalina Ponor and Marian Dragulescu were to once again make comebacks to competition.

Today the FIG has confirmed that both gymnasts have registered with for anti – doping. They go on to say:

Submitting to Anti-doping control is a requirement for actively licensed FIG gymnasts. Gymnasts must provide the FIG written notice of their intention to enter the Anti-doping pool at least six months before returning to competition. So long as no violations are detected, Ponor will be eligible to compete at FIG-sanctioned competitions as of July 12; Dragulescu will be eligible August 5.

While this means that neither gymnast will be eligible to compete at the inaugural European Games in Baku in June, it is presumed that the gymnasts will be focussing on the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, where Romania will hope to qualify their teams for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

This is not the first time either gymnast has returned to competition with Ponor making a very successful comeback for the 2012 Olympic Games where she helped Romania take team bronze and earned herself silver on floor. A chance at another Olympic medal was cruelly taken away from her when she tied for third place on beam with the USA’s Aly Raisman but lost out to the tie breaking rules and was not awarded the bronze medal. She is quoted as saying:

“I will say it again, and I want everyone to know, I will quit without regrets. I have worked every second for my team, I have worked every second for myself, I have worked every second for everybody. I have already been an Olympic champion. I will quit gymnastics with my chin up.”

Never say never Catalina!

For Dragulescu, retiring appears to be a sport in itself in which he excels. 2011 saw the Romanian Gymnastics Federation announce the comebacks of both Ponor and Dragulescu ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games. At this stage Dragulescu is first known to have retired from the sport in 2002.  Like Ponor, his was a successful comeback, winning 4 World Championships medals,   6 European titles between 2004 and 2009 as well as 3 Olympic medals, and the small matter of having the handspring double front half turn vault named after him in the FIG Code of Points. Following this he retired again in 2005, only to return again the same year.   He continued on to train for the 2008 Beijing Olympics but retired once again following a disappointing competition. 2009 saw another attempt at competition with Dragulescu winning titles on both floor and vault at the European Championships.

To my knowledge there were no other quitting instances in the run up to London 2012, although he did keep a relatively low profile between 2010 and 2011 but was a member of the Worlds 2010 team, as well as the 2011 team where he helped Romania qualify for London 2012.

He was not named to the Olympic team in July 2012, at the time he had been receiving intense physical therapy on an injury and hoped to be named at a later date. By mid – July the team was confirmed, with Dragulescu confirming himself as out of the running for a slot. It was then assumed that he had retired from the sport. Rumours of a resurgence began a year ago in February 2014. I’m excited to see what a 34 year old Marian can bring to the table, the Romanian mens team needs a boost.

What are your thoughts on the return of these two fantastic gymnasts? Leave a comment below.

Image via GSP


  1. jt says:

    Such exciting news! I’m really looking forward to seeing them both in competition.

    Dragulescu actually qualified for floor finals in 2011 with a fantastic routine and also qualified for vault and I think even All Around finals at Worlds so I don’t know that I’d describe that as keeping a low profile though he did pull out of all of them due to injury.

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