'Shocking Downfall' for the Country That Gave Us Nadia

Romanian women's team fails to qualify for Rio
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2016 8:00 AM CDT
'Shocking Downfall' for the Country That Gave Us Nadia
Members of Romania's gymnastics team pose with their bronze medals at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.   (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

The Romanian women's gymnastics team has scored a medal in every Olympics since 1976, making it the longest Olympic medal streak in the sport—and one that has now been broken, reports NPR. The team failed to nab a spot at the Rio Olympics during a qualifying "test event" on Sunday when competitors fell on the uneven bars, beam, floor, and vault, reports the Guardian. Nancy Armour at USA Today calls it "a shocking downfall for Romania." The fact that Romania had to attend the event at all after finishing 13th at the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships was "a stunning embarrassment for a team that has been a gymnastics powerhouse for 40 years," she wrote in October, and the one that gave the world Nadia Comaneci.

The loss of star Larisa Iordache, who recently broke a finger, clearly hurt the team. But legendary coach Octavian Bellu—who, along with Mariana Bitang, returned as a volunteer coach in advance of the Rio test event—blames the current crop of athletes. "I have the feeling they're not motivated enough or don't like the sport," he says. The publisher of International Gymnast Magazine, however, accuses the Romanian coaches of being "egocentric and stupid" and says Bellu and Bitang's decision not to attend the test event in Rio "would easily [breed] thoughts that this team was an embarrassment to them." Brazil, Germany, Belgium, and France will now join the US, Russia, Britain, China, Italy, Japan, Canada, and the Netherlands at the team event in Rio. One female gymnast from Romania will compete individually. (More 2016 Olympics stories.)

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