Marian Drăgulescu

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Marian Drăgulescu
Marian wiki.JPG
Personal information
Full nameMarian Drăgulescu
Nickname(s)The Moroccan
Country represented Romania
Born (1980-12-18) December 18, 1980 (age 38)
Bucharest, Romania
DisciplineMen's artistic gymnastics
LevelSenior international
GymCSA Steaua Bucureşti
Head coach(es)Danuţ Grecu
Assistant coach(es)Stefan Gal
Eponymous skillsDrăgulescu (vault)

Marian Drăgulescu (born December 18, 1980 in Bucharest) is a Romanian artistic gymnast. During his senior gymnastics career he has won an impressive 31 medals at Olympic games, and World or European Championships, of which eight are gold medals at the World Championships. He excels in vault and floor, on which he was a multiple world champion and Olympic medallist. His name will remain in gymnastics history not only because of his world titles on floor (2001, 2002, 2006, 2009) and vault (2001, 2005, 2006, 2009), but also because of the extremely difficult vault that was named after him: a handspring double front somersault with ½ turn or the Drăgulescu.[1] He was also an excellent all around gymnast, an event which he was a European champion (2004) and bronze medallist (2000), and placed 8th at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Early life and career[edit]

As a young boy, Drǎgulescu only attended gymnastics lessons because they were an excuse to get out of karate. However, as training became more intense he decided to switch to swimming because it was free. His father was not aware that he was not at gymnastics, but he soon went back to the gym as swimming was no longer free after three months.[1] Drǎgulescu's debut as a junior at a major international competition was in 1998 European Championships in St. Petersburg. There, he won gold on pommel horse, silver on vault, and bronze on floor and in the team event, and he placed eight in the individual all-around.[2]

Senior career[edit]


Drǎgulescu's first participation as a senior at a major event was at the 1999 World Championships, where he placed fourth on vault, eight on high bar[3] and 26th all around.[4] One year later he won an all-around bronze, a gold on floor and a silver with the team at the 2000 European championships in Bremen ahead of the Sydney Games. His debut at the Olympic Games in 2000 was rather modest, coming sixth on the floor and 13th in the all-around. He soon overcame the disappointment suffered in Sydney at the world championships at Ghent in Belgium the following year, where he was in top form, winning gold on the floor and on vault. In 2002 he added three more gold medals to his collection on two on vault and with the team and a bronze on floor at the 2002 Europeans and at the 2002 Worlds. For his achievements he was awarded the “Gymnast of the Year Award” (2002) by the International Press Association.[5] He received this award during the 2003 World Championships in Anaheim.[5] Here he won silver on vault, placed fourth on floor in a final in which silver was not awarded, sixth all around and fourth with the team.

2004 and the Olympic Games[edit]

The 2004 European Championships in Ljubljana were an especially successful meet for Drăgulescu. He helped his team to defend their title previously won in 2002.[6] Additionally, Marian won the all around title, and gold medals on floor and on vault. The only other gymnast to win four gold medals at a European Championships was Nadia Comăneci, who captured four gold medals at the 1975 European Championships.[7] His success at the 2004 Europeans made him one of the favorites for medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.[citation needed] At the 2004 Olympic Games Drăgulescu helped his team to a bronze medal and was a forerunner in the all around event until a mistake on the high bar, after which he still thrilled the crowd with a difficult routine. He won silver in the men's floor only after a tiebreaker was needed with gold medalist Kyle Shewfelt. On the men's vault he performed the exceptionally difficult vault that bears his name (a handspring double front with half turn) and received a 9.9, the highest score awarded in World or Olympic competition since 1995. It seemed he needed only to land his second vault to take gold, but he fell. However Drăgulescu was still awarded the bronze, a controversial decision because the disparity between the judges scores was greater than is permitted and therefore some or all of them should have been altered. They were not, and Shewfelt was pushed into fourth place. The Canadian federation filed a protest, but the result stood. In 2005 the judges involved were suspended for one year.[7]

Post Athens and the 2008 Olympic Games[edit]

Drăgulescu announced his retirement mid-2005, but has since returned and in the world championships in Melbourne in 2005 he won the vault title. He had long been hampered by the lack of a strong second vault, but debuted a new one- a round off half twist entry to forwards two and a half twist. Since then he has dominated that event, retaining his title at the 2006 World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark and winning the floor title as well. Drăgulescu no longer competed in all six events, which had given him more time to focus on those he still trained.

In 2007, Drǎgulescu participated in the European Championships which turned to be an unfortunate event for him. On floor exercise, he did not manage to complete his routine. After a hard landing to the back of his head on a layout Thomas salto, he twice attempted to run into his final tumbling pass. Instead of tumbling, he stopped and walked off the podium. That afternoon Drǎgulescu competed in the vault final, but missed his second vault (round-off, half-on, 2-1/2 twisting front), landing improperly and injuring his back.[8] Romanian doctors then advised Drǎgulescu to immediately stop training and undergo a detailed investigation in the United States to assess the seriousness of his injury. Therefore, he missed the 2007 world championships and resumed training only several months prior to the 2008 Olympic Games.[9] Although Drǎgulescu made the vault finals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, history repeated itself and, as in Athens 2004, he fell on his second vault after an almost faultless first vault (which scored a 16.800), losing his chance to win his first Olympic Gold Medal. However, unlike in Athens, Drǎgulescu did not medal in any of the events, placing fourth on vault, seventh on floor and seventh with the team.[10][11]

Post Beijing[edit]

Drǎgulescu was very disappointed when he failed to medal at the Beijing Olympics, saying "my soul broke" after he fell on the landing of his second vault attempt. He announced his retirement and his intention to become a gymnastic coach.[12] However, he reconsidered retirement and went to compete in Germany for Fabian Hambuchen’s club, KTV Straubenhardt. In the club's first three competitions, Drǎgulescu competed on floor and vault, obtaining the league's top scores on the latter event: 16.500 in the first two competitions, and 16.300 in the third one.[13] The club won the second place in December 2008.[14] After competing in the German league Dragulescu formally announced his retirement. He went to coach gymnastics alongside his former team colleagues Marius Urzică and Dan Potra at Dinamo Club Bucharest. He declared that his goal is to create a gymnast better than himself.[15]


In 2009, Drǎgulescu once again reconsidered his retirement from gymnastics. He had a very successful comeback winning the floor and the vault titles at the 2009 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.


In 2010, Drǎgulescu skipped the European Championships and Romanian Nationals but was a member of the Romanian team at the World Championships. There, he only competed on vault, floor and high bar, but did not qualify for the team or any individual final.[16] After skipping 2011's spring competition season, Drăgulescu made another comeback in the Romanian Nationals at the end of August.[17] This competition marked his comeback as an all-around gymnast after a break of seven years. In October, he joined the team at the 2011 World Championships and competed in the preliminary rounds, helping them qualify for the 2012 Olympics. Individually, he made the all-around, floor and vault finals giving him a chance to regain his titles, but due to injury, he could not compete and withdrew from all three finals.[18]


Drǎgulescu participated in the 2015 Israel Cup winning gold in vault. Meanwhile, he has been training a new skill, potentially the Drǎgulescu 2, which is a Drǎgulescu with a full twist instead of ½.

On November 1, 2015, Drǎgulescu participated in the 2015 World Championships held in Glasgow, Scotland, and won the silver medal in the individual vault event final with an average combined score of 15.400.[19] His two vaults were the Drǎgulescu or front handspring double (tucked) somersault with ½ twist, his own skill, and Li Xiaopeng or a "half on–2½ off" with D-scores 6.0 and 6.2. Ri Se Gwang of North Korea won gold (15.450) with own D-score 6.4 vaults, the Ri Se Gwang 1 and 2.


Drǎgulescu (age 36) participated in the 2016 European Championships held in Bern, Switzerland in May 2016, tying Armenian Artur Davtian for silver on vault with a score of 15.316 and also winning silver on floor with a score of 15.333.[20]

At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro that August, Drǎgulescu participated and qualified for the event final on vault. In the conclusion of the event, his average combined score was tied for the bronze medal with Japanese teenager Kenzo Shirai, but after applying the Olympic tiebreak rules to both scores, Drǎgulescu was relegated to fourth place due to Shirai's massive combined score on his first vault, which was brought on by the total of his scores in two parts, the final's highest execution score of 9.466 and second highest difficulty score of 6.4, for the successful completion of the now officially named Shirai 2 or 3½-twisting Yurchenko on vault, a new and an extremely difficult skill, in competition. Drǎgulescu's has been performing the same two vaults for many now, and they were once again the Drǎgulescu (a handspring double front tucked with ½ twist to land; D-score - 6.0) and Li Xiaopeng (Yurchenko, ½ twist on with 2½ twists in layout off; D-score - 6.2).


In 2017, Drǎgulescu was once again selected to represent the host Romanian team at the 2017 European Championships. He won gold in the floor exercise event final, his first victory at the European Championships in 11 years. He followed up his success at the championships in vault the next day, winning the silver medal.


  • Gymnast of the Year (2002); he shared the title with gymnast Elena Gómez.[5]
  • To honour his past achievements the Romanian Sporting Press awarded him the sportsman of the year award (2005) in a Sports Gala; he shared the award with fencer Mihai Covaliu.[21]
  • Romanian Sportsman of the Year (2009); he shared the title with boxer Lucian Bute.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Marian Dragulescu at the International Federation of Gymnastics
  2. ^ European Union of Gymnastics[permanent dead link] 23rd European Artistic Gymnastics Championships
  3. ^ Gymn Forum Results 1999 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships Events Finals
  4. ^ Gymn Forum Results 1999 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships Events Finals
  5. ^ a b c International Gymnast Magazine Gymnastics Champions Honored, May 10, 2003
  6. ^ International Gymnast Magazine Romania Defends Title, April 16, 2004
  7. ^ a b NBC Olympics Marian Drăgulescu
  8. ^ International Gymnast Magazine Seven Countries Win European Event Golds, John Crumlish, April 29, 2007
  9. ^ Reuters Romanian Dragulescu doubtful for Olympics, March 2, 2008
  10. ^ Gymnastics Results: Games of the 29th Olympiad Events Final Men
  11. ^ Gymnastics Results: Games of the 29th Olympiad Team Final Men
  12. ^ The Associated Press Romanian gymnast Marian Dragulescu retires, September 5, 2008
  13. ^ Triple Full “The Moroccan won’t give up”, translation of Prosport article October 23, 2008
  14. ^ KTV Straubenhardt Official website Bundesliga news, December 14, 2008 (in German)
  15. ^ Triple Full"Meanwhile in Not-AYOF news...", summary of Prosport article, January 19, 2009
  16. ^ European Union of Gymnastics[permanent dead link] 2010 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships
  17. ^ International Gymnast Magazine Ponor, Dragulescu to return at Romanian nationals in Onesti, by Amanda Turner, August 25, 2011
  18. ^ Romanian Gymnastics Federation Archived 2012-04-05 at the Wayback Machine Tokyo News, by Emanuel Fantaneanu, October 15, 2011
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-01-21. Retrieved 2015-09-15.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^
  21. ^ International Sport Press Association Gymnastic Marian Dragulescu and fencer Mihai Covaliu, joint Sportsmen of the Year 2005
  22. ^ Marian Dragulescu and lucian Bute win sportsman of the year 2009 awards (Romanian), December 21, 2009

External links[edit]