The 2010 World champion on beam, Ana Porgras, who will be 18 on the 18th of December, remembered her first steps in gymnastics.
“I was as little as them when it all started. I was 4, at home in Galaţi, and I showed my mum I could do all kinds of tumbles. It was then when they had the idea to take me to do gymnastics. I liked it from the beginning and I did not miss any big competition. I sat in front of the TV and watched the girls and Andreea Răducan and all I dreamed about was to be in that hall”. Little time left
Sport changed her childhood. Playing moved to the gym and turned into training. “When you are in sport, your childhood is completely different but the chances to make it are different too. Other people cannot do in their entire life what we do before we are 20. When we are gymnasts, we are no longer kids. We don´t have time to play anymore. I remember playing with my big sister, Georgiana, and having to leave for training when I was having a lot of fun. At home I would be watching cartoons all the time, my favorites were The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan. When I moved to Oneşti I no longer watched TV. I also left dozens of dolls at home.” She fondly remembers winning her first medal: “I was around 10 when I went to a competition in Buzău. Of all the girls at the Galaţi club, I was the only one to medal, I think on floor. I felt like a princess, unique. There were many talented girls there, maybe even more talented than me, but I was the only one to go far. Maybe I was lucky to go to Oneşti but I also worked hard.”Going to school with the National team
School was also different. Training hours and competition changed her schedule. “When I was a Junior in Oneşti and Deva we used to go to school but when I joined the National team everything changed: teachers started coming to us. I always loved Math and I never liked Literature. I loved drawing, but I don´t have time for that anymore.” Ana also remembers how close she came to giving up gymnastics: “I did not adapt fast to Deva. I felt alone and I wanted to go home. I then remembered what my coach used to tell me: when you have a bad day, try to make a good day out of it. And this is how I go over it.” Years passed and the little girl who used to tumble at home started gathering medals: gold on beam at the 2008 Junior Europeans and bronze on bars at the 2009 London Worlds. Although she was struggling with injuries, she did not give up and fulfilled her dream in 2010. She followed in the footprints of the gymnast she had seen on TV ten years ago, Andreea Răducan, and finished first on beam at the Rotterdam Worlds. A difficult year
She started 2011 thinking about the great promise, the London Olympic Games, but the “beam queen” crown proved too heavy. “I felt the pressure ever since the Europeans and it did not help. I should not think about the fact that everyone expects me to win medals, I should have enjoyed the competition. I was disappointed because I did not expect to miss everything. I had a breakdown and it took me a while to get over it. After the first day of competition at Worlds, I was an emotional wreck. I had missed beam of all things, an unpredictable apparatus, where every mistake is costly. I pulled myself together as I had to prove I could do more and I was close to getting a medal in the All-Around. I came so close, but I lost it on vault. Having qualified for the Olympics was the only good thing.” Porgras explains.
In only a few days she will be an adult: “I don´t think turning 18 is a big difference, not many things are going to change. Maybe I will be a little more responsible, but I am already mature. At the 2009 London World Championship I was still a child, but everything changed one year later, at the Rotterdam Worlds. I could not believe how much I changed in one year. The kids here will also grow, they have to, it´s how life goes.” On one of the gym´s walls, you can see the portraits of the Olympic champions Simona Amânar, Cătălina Ponor, Daniela Sofronie. Is Ana Porgras next?"We are ready"- Ana, is Romanian gymnastics on a downward path?
- The fact that we did not win any medal at World is showing this, but it´s another generation, different girls and different code of points. Gymnastics is still gymnastics, I don´t know if it´s more difficult now but it´s clearly different.- The Olympics are getting close. Are you ready?
- We´ll see what happens, but I think we are ready to fight for medals with the gymnasts from the USA and Russia. I am coming back after an injury and the way I recuperate will be very important. I will focus on beam and bars to help the team and help myself. Maybe I will also do floor and, if I find a solution for vault, I will also think about the All-Around.- How does it feel to be working with Octavian Bellu and Mariana Bitang?
- I was honored to start working with the best coaches in history. I didn´t imagine I would get to know them, let alone have them coach me.- You now have the chance to train with Cătălina Ponor.
- I did not expect her to come back, it was a real surprise, but we are happy to have here with us. She is of different age, very experienced and can help us a lot. - How do you feel about the pension threshold possibly set at 30 years old?
- It would be foolish. This impacts other sports as well, not only us, as we are not the only ones retiring at 20. Many people forget we start at 4. It would be a mistake to change this, especially before the Olympic Games.Quick questions- Could you describe yourself?
- I'm a nice girl. I don´t like yelling and screaming. I love gymnastics and I think I´m....cute.- How do you relax?
- I look for something which has nothing to do with gymnastics. I surf the Internet, I watch movies or listen to music. Any kind of music, except rock and manele.- Where would you go for a perfect holiday?
- The Caribbeans. I was born in winter, but I like heat.- What would you like to get for your birthday?
- I have everything, so I'd like to be healthy. Missing the 10
The Farul Sports Club confessed she would like to win a 10: ”No one wants a 10 now, that would be a terrible score. There's nothing like the moment Nadia Comăneci scored a 10 in Montreal, but I would have liked to win one myself. Even if you win 17 points now, it's not the same feeling.”Elegance Prize
Despite not having won any medal at this year's Tokyo World Championship, Ana Porgras returned home with an award. She received the “Elegance Prize” following the votes of gymnasts and journalists present at the competition. “I was flattered, they showed I have that something necessary for gymnastics.” says Porgras."I like animals, but in order for you to have a dog you must take care of it and I don't have the time. If I ever have the chance, I'll get a small and puffy one.”
"I like chocolate and I am allowed to eat it from time to time. Maybe not as much as I would have wanted.”
"When I was 9 we want to camp at the seaside. We all went to town for a couple of hours, although we were not allowed. Everyone got scared and they were really mad with us when we got back.”
"I liked Rotterdam a lot. Not only because I won the beam title there, but also because I've never seen such order and discipline anywhere else.“
Original interview by Ionuț Coman for Gazeta Sporturilor here
Translated by: RomanianGymnasticsFans