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Women's gymnastics team wins gold medal

If the morning of the fourth day of competition was uneventful for the Romanian delegation, the evening session scheduled a "trial by fire" for the women's gymnastics team --team finals. Simona Amanar, Maria Olaru, Andreea Raducanu, Loredana Boboc, Andreea Isarescu and Claudia Presacan, coached by Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang, entered the Sydney Dome radiating confidence, even though they complained about the hard floor mat, that caused them a few problems during prelims. After a much improved performance from prelims, where our gymnasts didn't miss any routines, they won the gold medal with a total of 154.608 pts. They finished ahead of defending Olympic silver medallists, Russia, and the Chinese team. This is Romania's second team gold medal at the Olympics, the previous one dating back to 1984.

In the beginning, it looked like Romania's team will be hampered by starting before the Russian and Chinese team. However, this imposed "strategy" turned out to be very beneficial for our gymnasts. Competing flawlessly on bars (huh:)??), beam, floor and vault, Romanian ended the team competition with Simona's 9.593 score on vault.

This was followed by a 30-minute waiting period, during which our small Romanian delegation watched the Russian team compete on beam, while China took to the floor. More missed routines followed, tension was high, even Khorkina fell on her favorite event, the uneven bars, while two Chinese gymnasts went out of bounds on floor. Khorkina's floor routine concluded the competition. Her 9.787 was not enough to surpass the Romanian team. Thanks in part to the judges' kindness, the Russians moved pass China to finish second, with 154.403 pts to China's 154.008 pts. We should note that while our team was eagerly waiting for the final results to be posted, the small contingent of Romanian supporters inside the Dome, were already cheering and celebrating the team's victory. In the end, the Romanian team's hora (traditional folk dance) was cheered by all the Australian spectators. Simona Amanar was the best gymnast on the team, and her latest success silenced all her critics, who criticized her relentlessly, after her disappointing performance at this year's Europeans. At the press conference, while Simona had to leave to take her drug test, Octavian Belu cleared up any doubts about his future as National team coach "This is an unbelievable accomplishment, especially since I'm sure I won't be around for the next 'Millennium Olympics'".

The gymnasts and their coaches will each receive $30,000 for the gold medal, as well as a Ford Ka (European version of the Taurus). Should the gymnasts win any other gold medals, they will receive a Ford Mondeo.

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