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Gym Stars

vaulting ambitions

Over the past two years, Simona has worked her way to the top of the Romanian squad, and has quietly but consistently earned her place as one of the top gymnasts in the world. Known for her superb double twisting Yurchenko vault and sky-high triple twist on floor, GYM STARS met the shy but determined 16 year-old earlier this year in Paris.

"I always wanted to be a star in gymnastics!" she says, explaining how she fell in love with the sport when she first tried it. "My parents saw gymnastics on the TV when I was six, and decided to take me to a gym club. I liked it straight away and decided to carry on."

That club was called Farul in her hometown of Constanta, and her coach, Nicole Forminte, recalls his early impressions of the tiny girl. "When she was about ten years old I knew she would be good," he says. "She had a lot of speed and power, as well as the ability to work hard."

Despite her determination, there were moments when, like any gymnast, she doubted her abilities. "Before I was selected for the national squad I was unsure," she remembers. "If I hadnít been selected I would have given up and gone to a normal school like everyone else."

Fortunately for Simona, she was chosen to attend the national training centre in Deva, which is like her second home. She is now experienced enough to give her opinions about competitions. She is critical of the format used in the European championships. "I donít agree with the system when you have to compete without a warm-up in the arena. I think it is dangerous."

Like all Romanians, she trains hard to keep at the top, and after a dayís training prefers to stay in and watch TV. She enjoys Italian programmes and loves to watch ice-skating. "My favourite is Suriya Bonaly of France. I tried ice-skating once but couldnít do it!"

Simonaís ambitions are to get a medal in the Olympics, and when she eventually retires she hopes to pass on her experience to others. "I want to be a coach. I feel there are good prospects in gymnastics even after I stop."


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