Nicoleta Onel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Nicoleta Onel
— Gymnast —
Ralu40.jpg
Personal information
Full name Nicoleta Raluca Onel
Country represented  Romania
Born (1982-03-08) March 8, 1982 (age 32)
Discipline Women's artistic gymnastics

Nicoleta Raluca Onel (born March 8, 1982) is regarded as one of the most talented former Romanian gymnasts. She took part in many national and international competitions in the mid-1990s, where she achieved notable results and quickly drew notice in the gymnastics community and emerged as a promising new Romanian gymnastics talent.

Forced to retire early from competition by an unfortunate spinal accident that could have cost her life, little is known about her; she has probably gone down in gymnastics history, her results aside, as one of the few promising gymnasts who never made it to the senior level.

The best and most notable performances of Onel's gymnastics career include two all-round vice-champion titles; one won at the European Junior Championships in Belgium, 1995, and another one obtained at the World Junior Championships in Japan, 1997 (which coincides with the climax of her career).

Biography[edit]

Nicoleta Onel (wearing the National Team leotard)

Nicoleta Onel was born in the town of Ploieşti, Romania and started gymnastics at the age of 6. She had since divided her time between gymnastics and school. Although she loved gymnastics and took on a path aimed at building a professional career in this field, she also devoted a part of her time to the study. She was selected by two gym coaches who were seeking new talents in the schools of Ploieşti. She loved gymnastics so much that she accepted to face a hard training regime at the club and then go to school for another 6 hours.

Soon after she was selected for performance, she moved to a school located nearer to the gym club (which was 3 kilometers away from home), a distance often covered walking. At the age of six, she would wake up at 6 o'clock in the morning (earlier than anybody else in the family), walk 3 kilometers to the gym club, where an exhausting 6-hour training session awaited her, and then would go to school for another 6 hours (often forgetting to have lunch) and arrive late in the evening back home (often on foot).

After years of hard training, she took part in the first competitions: the national gymnastics championships for women. Many times on occasion of these championships, she placed first or second all-round and on other apparatuses. Consequently, the demands in the performance level and training increased and she had to cope with a stricter programme. Soon, she was selected for the Junior National Team in Bucharest and she had to abandon completely her family, her native town and few other things as she moved up.

She was quickly remarked by the coaches in Bucharest as a talented gymnast and she enjoyed several successes during this period: in 1995 she was becoming European vice-champion all-round and on other apparatuses.

Nicoleta Onel (being awarded the silver medal in Japan, 1997)

Next year, on the occasion of the same contest, she was kept as a substitute for the most part of the competition, which was reflected in the weak performance of the team at that time.[citation needed]

Also, she was included in the Romanian Olympic Team's plans for the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

A turning point in Onel's career was the Bucharest team break-away in 1996, due to some misunderstandings between the Romanian Gymnastics Federation and the coaches. She was among the few junior gymnasts selected for the Senior National Team in Deva, a dream of many Romanian gymnasts.

Nicoleta enjoyed some exceptional successes in this time: World vice-champion with the team and all-round in Japan, 1997, Olympic vice-champion with the team in Portugal, 1997, and outnumbered first places in other international and regional competitions (in Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Guatemala, Venezuela, U.S.A, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Hungary, etc.) all at the junior level.

Due to hard training and bones fragility, she suffered a spinal accident in 1998, and she was advised to quit professional gymnastics for good. She had to abandon gymnastics and turned her attention towards school. In two years, she would have become a student at the National Academy of Sports.

Nevertheless, the Academy refused to accept her admission without a contest, pretending that the results she had obtained had not been obtained at senior level (despite the outnumbered titles she had conquered for her country). In a last-ditch effort, Onel required an audience with the Minister of Sports at that time.

Nicoleta Onel (with the National Team in Belgium)

After presenting him the situation she was confronting with and showing him all the titles she had conquered in her activity as a gymnast, the Minister accepted her admission without a contest to the Academy. She was soon hired as a gymnastics instructor at a local gym club in the Romanian capital of Bucharest, where she was offered a very low salary.

After two years spent coaching in Bucharest, in 2001, Nicoleta was offered a contract in the UAE as a gymnastics coach, in the International School of Choueifat, Al Ain. [1]

Competitions and results[edit]

National competitions

1991
  • Team: 1st place
  • Uneven bars: 2nd place
1992
  • Uneven bars: 1st place
  • All-round: 2nd place
1993
  • Uneven bars: 1st place
  • All-round: 2nd place
  • Team: 2nd place
1994
  • Uneven bars: 1st place
  • All-round: 1st place
  • Floor: 2nd place
  • Horse vault: 3rd place
1995
  • Beam: 1st place
  • Uneven bars: 2nd place
  • Floor: 2nd place
  • Horse vault: 2nd place

Regional competitions

1995 (Hungary)
  • Team: 1st place
  • Uneven bars: 2nd place
1996 (Bulgaria)
  • Team: 1st place

International competitions

1995 (England)
  • Team: 1st place
  • All-round: 4th place
1995 (Romania)
  • Team: 1st place
  • All-round: 3rd place
1995 (Guatemala)
  • Team: 1st place
  • Beam: 1st place
  • All-round: 2nd place
  • Uneven bars: 2nd place
  • Floor: 2nd place
1995 (Netherlands)
  • All-round: 5th place
1996 (Germany)
  • Team: 1st place
1997 (U.S.A)
  • Team: 3rd place
1997 (Spain)
  • Team: 1st place
1998 (U.S.A)
  • Team: 2nd place

European junior championships

1995 (Belgium)
  • Team: 2nd place
  • Uneven bars: 2nd place
1996 (England)
  • Team: 3rd place

World junior championships

1997 (Japan)
  • Beam: 2nd place
  • Uneven bars: 2nd place
  • Floor: 2nd place
  • All-round: 2nd place

European youth Olympics

1997 (Portugal)
  • All-round: 2nd place

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • Nicoleta's middle name is Raluca, and that is what she is usually called by her relatives.
  • Nicoleta has been working in the United Arab Emirates for 11 years now.
  • Despite her prestigious career and dozens of titles won for her country, Nicoleta was refused a life annuity (although she was entitled to be paid one by law) by the Romanian Gymnastics Federation[citation needed] on the pretext that all her titles were achieved at the junior level.

External links[edit]