Sport in Romania
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There are a wide array of sports that are played and followed in Romania. Football is the most popular sport in Romania. Other popular sports include handball, basketball, rugby union, tennis, and gymnastics.
Football is the most popular sport in Romania. The most internationally known Romanian player is Gheorghe Hagi, who played for Steaua Bucureşti (Romania), Real Madrid, FC Barcelona (Spain), and Galatasaray (Turkey), among others. Other famous Romanian players include: Nicolae Dobrin, Ilie Balaci, Dudu Georgescu, Florea Dumitrache, Ion Oblemenco, Dan Coe, Cornel Dinu, Marcel Răducanu, Mircea Lucescu, Necula "Tamango" Răducanu, Anghel Iordănescu, Costică Ştefănescu, Rodion Cămătaru, Ladislau Boloni, Silviu Lung, Michael Klein, Mircea Rednic, Gheorghe Popescu, Dan Petrescu, Miodrag Belodedici, Dorinel Munteanu, Bogdan Stelea, Ioan Lupescu, Helmuth Duckadam, Marius Lăcătuş, Ilie Dumitrescu, Viorel Moldovan, Florin Răducioiu, Adrian Ilie, Bogdan Lobonț, Cosmin Contra, Cristian Chivu, and Adrian Mutu.
In 1986, the Romanian football club Steaua Bucureşti became the first Eastern European club ever, and only one of the two (the other being Red Star Belgrade) to win the prestigious European Champions Cup title. In 1989, it played the final again, but lost to AC Milan. Other important Romanian football clubs are Dinamo Bucureşti, FC Universitatea Craiova, Rapid Bucureşti, UT Arad, FC Argeş Piteşti, FC Petrolul Ploieşti, Universitatea Cluj-Napoca, Sportul Studenţesc, FC Timişoara, FC Farul Constanţa, FC Braşov, and FC Progresul Bucureşti. The Romanian national football team has taken part seven times in the FIFA World Cup, and it had a very successful period through the 1990s, reaching the quarter-finals in the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States, when the "Golden Generation" was at its best.
Handball is the second most popular sport in Romania, after football. The Romania national handball team has won the Handball World Cup a record four times (1961, 1964, 1970, and 1974). The only other team to have matched this record is Sweden in 1999. The Romania women's national handball team has won the Handball World Cup in 1962. Steaua and Dinamo have also won several European titles over the years.
Basketball is a very popular sport among Romanian youth. Gheorghe Mureşan was the first Romanian to enter NBA, and he became known as the tallest man ever to play in that league. Another product of the Romanian basketball school was Toni Alexe.
Rugby union is a popular team sport played in Romania, with a tradition of more than 80 years.
Romania holds a long tradition in artistic gymnastics, especially in the ladies competition. Gymnastics is responsible for the majority of Romania's Olympic medals, gold, silver, and bronze. The most famous Romanian gymnast is Nadia Comăneci, who was the first gymnast to ever score a perfect 10 at the Olympic Games, during the 1976 Summer Olympics. She also won three gold medals, one silver, and one bronze, all at the age of fourteen. Her success continued in the 1980 Summer Olympics, where she was awarded two gold medals and two silver medals. At the 1976 Olympic Games, Teodora Ungureanu did very well too, but did not receive as much fame as Nadia. Other famous gymnasts include: Daniela Silivaş, Ecaterina Szabo, Lavinia Miloşovici, Gina Gogean, Simona Amânar, Andreea Răducan, Maria Olaru, Cătălina Ponor and Sandra Izbaşa.
Ilie Năstase, a famous Romanian tennis player, is another internationally known Romanian sports star. He won several Grand Slam titles and dozens of other tournaments and was the first player to be ranked as number 1 by ATP from 1973 to 1974; he also was a successful doubles player. Romania has also reached the Davis Cup finals three times. Virginia Ruzici was a successful tennis player in the 1970s.
Romania reached the Davis Cup finals three times (1969, 1971, 1972). The most famous Romanian tennis player of all time is Ilie Năstase, presented by the Tennis Hall of Fame presents as "the most talented player ever to hold the racquet". He was the only Romanian player to ever achieve the number 1 ranking. Other famous men's tennis players include Ion Ţiriac and Andrei Pavel. In ladies tennis, Virginia Ruzici, Irina Spîrlea, and Ruxandra Dragomir are among the top Romanian players of all time. As for active players, the top Romanians on the men's side include Victor Hănescu and Victor Crivoi. On the women's side, the top Romanians include Simona Halep, Sorana Cîrstea, Ioana Raluca Olaru, Alexandra Dulgheru, and Monica Niculescu. There are also many junior stars like Ana Bogdan and Elena Bogdan.
Rowing and canoeing
Romanian oarspeople have brought numerous successes, including 35 Olympic medals (18 gold) for rowing and 34 medals (10 gold) for canoeing. Romania is a leading rowing nation. Often boasting many wins each year in the Junior World Rowing Championships. In the under-23's age level, Romania often field a strong team. Often medalling in the women's events.
The Romanian Senior Women's rowing team is particularly strong. They have been the poster child team as regards women's rowing. They consistently perform in the coxed women's eight. In the Olympics, they won the women's coxless pair. This was one of the team members sixth Olympic gold medal. Now she is the most decorated female rower in history.
Fencing as a sport was introduced in Romania in the 19th century by French, German, Hungarian and Italian masters. The first national fencing competition was held in 1921 and the Romanian Fencing Federation was created in 1931. The first Romanian fencer to reach the podium in a major international competition was Maria Vicol, who earned a silver medal at the 1956 Junior World Championships in Luxembourg.
Since then, fencing has brought Romania eight Olympic team medals and seven Olympic individual medals, including three golds: Ion Drîmbă (foil) at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, Laura Badea (foil) at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and Mihai Covaliu (sabre) at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Romanian fencers also earned 13 gold medals in World Fencing Championships and 13 gold medals in European Fencing Championships. Six Romanians feature in the Hall of Fame of the International Fencing Federation: Laura Badea, Mihai Covaliu, Ana Pascu, Petru Kuki, Ioan Pop and Reka Szabo. Two Romanian athletes are currently amongst top-ranked fencers: Ana Maria Brânză, number one in women's épée, and Tiberiu Dolniceanu, number one in men's sabre.
While motor sports are very popular for TV broadcasting, the lack of availability of large sums of money for investments have limited the expansion of this sport. Nevertheless, there is a motor ring near Arad, and more recently, Bucharest Ring has taken place on the streets of the capital.
Maybe slightly surprising for a country of its size, Romania has been one of the most successful countries in the history of the Summer Olympic Games (15th overall) with a total of 283 medals won throughout the years, 82 of which are gold medals. The largest amount of medals won by Romania at the Olympics in any sport is gymnastics, with a total of 69 medals, 24 of which are gold.
Romania has appeared in 18 of 25 of the Summer Olympic Games. The nation debuted at the 1900 Summer Olympics, appeared again three times between the World Wars, and has competed at every event since the 1952 Summer Olympics.
These figures are from 2004 and refer to registered sportsmen for a total of 214,000 sportsmen and 5,862 clubs.
The highest football division has attracted about 1.65 million spectators in 2006 and 2007, with an average attendance of 5,417 per game.
- Romania at the Olympics
- Romania at the Paralympics
- Romanian Football Federation
- Romanian Handball Federation
- "Gymnast Posts Perfect Mark" Robin Herman, New York Times, March 28, 1976
- All-Time Medal Standings, 1896-2004
- Europa Yearbook 2007, Volume 2, Romania.
- european-football-statistics.co.uk "EFS Attendances". European Football Statistics. Retrieved 2007-04-21.