Simona Amânar

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Simona Amânar
— Gymnast —
Personal information
Full name Simona Amânar
Nickname(s) Simi
Country represented  Romania
Born (1979-10-07) October 7, 1979 (age 35)
Constanta, Romania
Height 158 cm (5 ft 2 in)
Discipline Women's artistic gymnastics
Level Senior International
Gym Deva National Training Center
Head coach(es) Octavian Bellu
Assistant coach(es) Mariana Bitang
Eponymous skills Amânar (vault)
Retired 2000

Simona Amânar (Romanian pronunciation: [siˈmona amɨˈnar]; born October 7, 1979 in Constanţa) is a Romanian former gymnast. She is a seven-time Olympic medalist and a ten-time world medalist. Amânar helped Romania to win four consecutive world team titles (1994–1999) as well as the 2000 Olympic team title. She has a vault named after her, the Amanar. She was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2007.[1] The hallmarks of Amânar's gymnastics include her powerful vaulting skills and consistency. Later in her career she was considered weak on the uneven bars, her scores declining after she tied for the European title in 1996.

Simona Amanar, 2000 Olympics, Sydney, Australia


In 1994, her first year on the senior national team, Amânar was known primarily as a team player and contributed to the 1994 World and European Romanian team titles.


She began to excel as an individual performer at the 1995 European Cup, placing 2nd all-around behind Svetlana Khorkina, as well as winning gold on both vault and floor. She continued her success at the World Championships that year, helping to secure the second consecutive World team title for Romania, and became co-world champion on vault (with all-around champion Lilia Podkopayeva). Amânar had a powerful floor routine and huge vaults that put her in the lead after two rotations. However, she dropped to fourth overall after an average bar routine and a shaky beam routine.


Amânar won the silver medal on vault at the individual apparatus at the World Championships behind teammate Gina Gogean and ahead of Cuban Annia Portuondo-Hatch.

At the 1996 Summer Olympics, Amânar was one of the front-runners to contend for several individual medals. However, her Olympics started inauspiciously as she fell off the beam during the compulsories. Though she would later post the highest all-around score during the optionals (39.387), she still only placed fourth amongst her teammates and did not qualify for the all-around finals. In a scenario similar to the 1992 Olympic substitution by the Unified Team of Tatiana Gutsu for Rozalia Galiyeva, Amânar replaced her teammate Alexandra Marinescu, which was legal according to the rules at the time. Head coach Octavian Belu stated that Amânar deserved to compete because she worked harder and was a better athlete than Marinescu. The decision proved to be sound as Amânar shared the bronze medal with teammate Lavinia Miloşovici, behind her other teammate Gina Gogean.

In both the 1996 Olympic All-Around and the 1995 World Championship All-Around, Amânar failed to score over the 9.800 mark on the floor exercise despite well-executed and extremely difficult tumbling. In Atlanta, she scored a 9.887 in Optionals (the highest score of the entire Olympics, on any event, for men or women) and only a 9.737 in the All-Around. She did not start from a 10.0 in the All-Around despite having the most tumbling bonus of anyone at the Games (.6 in D and E elements, and .3 in Connection Value) because her tour-jete half (Strug), a C element, was not completed or credited. Thus, she did not have enough simple A, B, and C skills to fulfill her value part requirements and much of her D and E rated tumbling had to count as these easier elements to fulfill requirements.

The requirements for the 9.4 Base Score, for each level of competition, were as follows: Comp I (team optionals): 3-As, 3-Bs, 2-Cs; Comp II (all-around): 3-As, 3-Bs, 2-Cs, 1-D; Comp III (event finals): 3-As, 3-Bs, 2-Cs, 2-Ds.

Amanar did not perform a double turn in either the team optionals or the all-around because it was not necessary as long as she completed her Strug. She included few A, B, and C skills in her routine because her excess D and E tumbling bonus could count to fulfill these simpler element requirements. However, when she failed to complete her Strug, four of her six tenths in D and E elements had to count towards fulfilling requirements, which left her with only .2 counting towards her bonus. In that Code of Points, gymnasts needed .3 in D and E skill bonus, and .3 in Connection Value bonus to start from a 10.0. Without the error, Amânar would have finished well ahead of her more established compatriots Gogean and Milosovici.

In the event finals in Atlanta, Amânar completed her Strug, added a double turn to fulfill the more stringent Competition III (event final) requirements, and earned a 9.850 and the silver medal behind Lilia Podkopayeva and just ahead of Dominique Dawes. She won the Olympic vault event the day before largely due to a 9.875 for an enormous double-twisting Yurchenko vault. She left the 1996 Olympics with four total medals, including Romania's team bronze.


Amânar would again replace a higher performing Marinescu in the 1997 World All-Around Championships. She won the silver medal behind Svetlana Khorkina of Russia. She actually performed better and scored higher than Khorkina on three of the four pieces, but the discrepancy between their bars performances gave the title to Khorkina. Amânar's vaulting score was not as high as in previous all-around competition due to a rule change that required the athletes to perform two different vaults in all-around competition. Her second vault—a Phelps—was much weaker than her first choice vault, the double twisting Yurchenko. Nevertheless, Amanar won the vault title, and the victory made her a two-time World champion and Olympic champion on the event. Romania also won its third straight team title.


In the 1999 World Championships, Amânar led the team to a fourth consecutive team title, but fell off the bars during the all-around and placed well out of the medals. She lost her vaulting title to Russia's Elena Zamolodchikova, who dominated that event in the following years due to a more difficult second vault - a double twisting Tsukahara. Amânar eventually learned this vault by 2000, but only completed it at the European Championships. Amânar's younger teammates carried the banner for the Romanians. Maria Olaru won the all-around, and Andreea Răducan won the title on floor exercise. Amânar won her first ever (and only) World Championship medal on the floor, taking home the silver behind Raducan.


At the 2000 Summer Olympics, the Romanians once again edged out the Russians to take the team title—their first since 1984 and their first ever in a non-boycotted Olympics. The vaulting horse was set too low by the Olympic organizers before the Women's All-Around. The undisputed favourite for the all-around title, Svetlana Khorkina, fell on her signature vault. Several other gymnasts in the competition met peril because of this same scenario. Many went on to their next event knowing their medal chances were gone, only later to be informed of the error and their chance to vault again. By that point, it was too late. The three Romanian women managed either to vault well on the faulty vault or to vault after the mistake had been corrected. They swept the medals, with Andreea Răducan winning the title, followed by Amânar and Olaru.

Răducan had used a cold medicine containing a banned substance. Although she was not banned and her results in other events were allowed to stand, Răducan was stripped of her gold medal which went to Amânar. Initially, Amânar refused to accept the medal, insisting that Răducan had rightfully earned the title. Teammate Maria Olaru took the same stance when the silver was awarded to her, as well. The two eventually reconsidered, deciding instead to bring the medals home to Romania as symbolic victories of the team. Amânar later returned the gold medal to her teammate Răducan. Although Răducan intended to file paperwork with the IOC, Amanar is still credited as the 2000 All-Around champion. To this day, Amânar has stated that she firmly believes that Răducan is the true All-Around Olympic champion and refuses to acknowledge herself as the winner.[citation needed]

In the event finals, Amânar had the opportunity to defend her Olympic title from four years earlier. However, she stumbled badly while debuting a new vault—a 212 twisting laid-out Yurchenko, which was then named after her, and her medal hopes were erased. She won the bronze on floor exercise, losing points for a step out of bounds on her last tumbling pass.

Career summary[edit]

Throughout her career, Amânar was a power athlete, showing exceptional difficulty on vault and floor but with less strength on beam and particularly bars. Her strength was difficult athletic skills rather than expression. She maintained a hugely successful career at the highest ranks of the sport for over five years. Amânar ranks highly on the list[citation needed] of most medaled gymnasts ever, with 17 World and Olympic medals. Amânar played a crucial role in the four straight World team titles and Olympic title which firmly stamped Romania as the number one ranked team in the world.

Eponymous Skills[edit]

A vault element is named after her, the "Amanar".[2] It involves a round-off entry onto the vaulting table followed by a laid-out salto with 2 1/2 twists. She first competed this skill at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. The vault is currently worth 6.3 points in the Women's Code of Points.

Post retirement[edit]

Amânar retired in 2000 shortly after the Olympic Games, saying it was the right time to retire. She married Cosmin Tabără, a lawyer, on 9 March 2002, in Timişoara. She gave birth to a son, Alexandru Iosif, five months later. She is the Vice-President of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation.

Competitive history[edit]

Year Event AA Team VT UB BB FX
1994 European Championships 1st
Team World Championships 1st
1995 European Cup 2nd 1st 5th 3rd 1st
Kosice Cup 2nd
World Championships 4th 1st 1st 6th
1996 European Championships 4th 1st 1st 1st 7th
World Championships 2nd
Olympic Games 3rd 3rd 1st 5th 2nd
World Championships 2nd 1st 1st
Chunichi Cup 2nd
Blume Memorial 2nd
DTB Cup 1st 6th 3rd
Arthur Gander Memorial 1st
1998 European Championships 2nd 1st 2nd
Chunichi Cup 6th
DTB Cup 1st 2nd 1st 2nd
Romanian International 1st 2nd 1st 1st
Swiss Cup 3rd 2nd 2nd 3rd
World Championships 14th 1st 2nd 2nd
Chunichi Cup 2nd
Arthur Gander Memorial 2nd
Romanian International 1st 1st 2nd 1st 1st
International Mixed Pairs 1st 1st
2000 European Championships 8th 3rd 1st 2nd 5th
Olympic Games 1st 1st 6th 3rd
Chunichi Cup 1st
Cottbus World Cup 2nd 7th 2nd
Romanian International 2nd
National Championships 1st

See also[edit]


  1. ^ International Gymnastics Hall of Fame Simona Amânar
  2. ^ FIG Women's Artistic Gymnastics Code of Points 2009–2012, page 163

External links[edit]