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Sydney 2000

Lady-in-waitng reluctantly accepts Raducan's gold

Sept 29 2000


In other circumstances, Simona Amanar's all-around gold medal would have been a career highlight, the perfect way to cap off her last competition.

But coming by default, as a result of team-mate Andreea Raducan's positive dope test, it is something of a poisoned chalice.

More's the pity because Amanar, who celebrates her 21st birthday next week, has been the sport's lady-in-waiting for several years, a consistent and beautiful performer who has collected a swag of Olympic and world championship medals, many of them gold.

She has world titles on vault and bars and an Olympic vault gold but the coveted all-around medal had always eluded her. She was second, to Russia's Svetlana Khorkina, at the world championships in 1997 and third the year before at the Atlanta Olympics. She was in the running at last year's worlds until falling from bars, subsequently finishing 14th.

She is much admired by fellow competitors, younger gymnasts often listing her as their favorite. In most other countries, her record would be considered outstanding but in the country that gave the sport Nadia Comaneci, standards of greatness are higher.

So now she has the all-around gold but not the way she wanted it. Amanar initially said she would not accept the gold and that she and team-mate Maria Olaru would hand in their silver and bronze medals back on protest.

But her stance soften after Raducan's father Gheorge urged them to take the medals, telling a Romanian news service, "Regardless of how this issue develops, I am happy that the gold medal will come back to Romania".

Amanar said she would accept the medal with a heavy heart:" I'll accept it because it belongs to Romania but I'll know it belongs to Andreea. She's the Olympic champion."

The revised result is posted on the Olympic News Service computer but there has been no medal ceremony. Amanar, Olaru and the new bronze medalist, China's Liu Xuan, declined the offer of a public presentation.

Perhaps Amanar will find more joy in achieving one of her other stated ambitions-"To create an Olympic champion by my own efforts". She has announced her retirement and intends to move into coaching.

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