|— Gymnast —|
Simona Amânar at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
|Full name||Simona Amânar|
October 7, 1979 |
|Height||158 cm (5 ft 2 in)|
|Discipline||Women's artistic gymnastics|
|Gym||Deva National Training Center|
|Head coach(es)||Octavian Bellu|
|Assistant coach(es)||Mariana Bitang|
|Eponymous skills||Amânar (vault)|
Simona Amânar (Romanian pronunciation: [siˈmona amɨˈnar]; born October 7, 1979 in Constanţa) is a Romanian former artistic gymnast. She is a seven-time Olympic medalist and a ten-time world medalist. Amânar helped Romania win four consecutive world team titles (1994–1999) as well as the 2000 Olympic team title. She is also the 2000 Olympic All-Around champion. She has a vault named after her, the Amânar. She was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2007. The hallmarks of Amânar's gymnastics included her powerful vaulting skills and consistency. Later in her career, she was considered weak on the uneven bars, with her scores declining after she tied for the European title in 1996.
In 1994, her first year on the senior national team, Amânar was known primarily as a team player and contributed to Romania's team titles at the World and European championships.
Amânar began to excel as an individual performer at the 1995 European Cup, placing second all-around behind Svetlana Khorkina of Russia and winning gold on both vault and floor. She continued her success at the World Championships that year, helping Romania secure its second consecutive world team title and becoming co-world champion on vault (with all-around champion Lilia Podkopayeva of Ukraine). Amânar's powerful floor routine and vaults put her in the lead after two rotations in the all-around. However, she dropped to fourth overall after an average bar routine and a shaky beam routine.
At the 1996 Summer Olympics, Amânar was one of the front-runners for several individual medals, but her Olympics started inauspiciously when she fell off the beam during the compulsories. Though she later posted the highest all-around score in the optionals (39.387), her combined compulsory and optionals scores put her fourth among her teammates, and she did not qualify for the all-around final. However, in a scenario similar to the Unified Team's substitution of Tatiana Gutsu for Rozalia Galiyeva at the 1992 Olympics, Amânar replaced her teammate Alexandra Marinescu in the final, which was legal at the time. The Romanian head coach, Octavian Bellu, said that Amânar deserved to compete because she had worked harder and was a better athlete than Marinescu. Amânar ended up sharing the bronze medal with teammate Lavinia Miloşovici, behind teammate Gogean.
In both the 1996 Olympic all-around and the 1995 World Championships all-around, Amânar failed to score over 9.800 on the floor exercise despite well-executed and extremely difficult tumbling. In Atlanta, she scored a 9.887 in the team optional competition (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 points of anyone at the Games (.6 in D and E elements, and .3 in connection value)—because her tour jeté half-turn (Strug), a C element, was not completed. Thus, she did not have enough simple A, B, and C skills to meet her value part requirements, and much of her D- and E-rated tumbling had to count as easier elements to fulfill those requirements.
The requirements for the 9.4 base score, for each level of competition, were as follows: Competition I (team optionals): 3 As, 3 Bs, 2 Cs; Competition II (all-around): 3 As, 3 Bs, 2 Cs, 1 D; Competition III (event finals): 3 As, 3 Bs, 2 Cs, 2 Ds.
Amânar 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 toward requirements, which left her with only .2 counting toward her bonus. In the Code of Points at the time, 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 Miloşovici.
In the event finals in Atlanta, Amânar completed her Strug and added a double turn to fulfill the more stringent Competition III (event final) requirements. She earned a 9.850 and the silver medal, behind Podkopayeva and just ahead of Dominique Dawes of the United States. She won the vault final the day before, largely because of her 9.875 score for an enormous double-twisting Yurchenko vault. She left the 1996 Olympics with four medals, including Romania's team bronze.
Amânar again replaced a higher-performing Marinescu in the all-around competition at the 1997 World Championships. She won the silver medal behind Russia's Khorkina: She scored higher than Khorkina on three of the four events, but the discrepancy between their performances on the uneven bars gave the title to Khorkina. Amânar's vaulting score was not as high as in previous all-around competitions because of a rule change that required the athletes to perform two different vaults. Her second vault, a Phelps, was much weaker than her first, the double-twisting Yurchenko. Nevertheless, Amânar 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 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 learned that vault by 2000, but only completed it at the European Championships. Her 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 (and only) World Championship medal on the floor, taking home the silver behind Răducan.
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, and the undisputed favorite for the all-around title, Svetlana Khorkina, fell on her signature vault. Several other gymnasts in the competition fell or stumbled because of this same problem. Many went on to make mistakes on their next event, knowing their medal chances were gone, only to be informed later of the error and their chance to vault again. The three Romanian women either managed to perform well on the faulty vault or vaulted after the mistake had been corrected. They swept the medals, with Răducan winning the gold, followed by Amânar and Olaru.
Răducan had used a cold medicine containing a banned substance. Although her results in other events were allowed to stand, she 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. Maria Olaru took the same stance when the silver was awarded to her, and China's Liu Xuan also refused the bronze. However, the two Romanians eventually reconsidered, deciding to bring the medals home to Romania as symbolic victories of the team. Amânar later returned the gold medal to Răducan. Although Răducan intended to file paperwork with the International Olympic Committee, Amânar is still credited as the 2000 all-around champion. To this day, Amânar says she believes that Răducan is the true Olympic all-around champion and refuses to acknowledge herself as the winner.
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 21⁄2 twisting laid-out Yurchenko, which was then named after her — although her medal hopes were erased. She went on to win bronze on floor exercise after losing points for a step out of bounds on her last tumbling pass.
Throughout her career, Amânar was a power athlete, showing exceptional difficulty on vault and floor but less on beam and bars. Her strength was difficult skills rather than expression. She maintained a hugely successful career at the highest ranks of the sport for more than five years. Amânar ranks highly on the list of most medaled gymnasts, with 17 World and Olympic medals. She played a crucial role in the four consecutive World team titles and Olympic title that firmly stamped Romania as the top-ranked team women's gymnastics team in the world.
A vault element is named after her, the "Amânar." It involves a round-off entry onto the vaulting table followed by a laid-out salto with 21⁄2 twists. She first competed this skill at the 2000 Olympics. The vault is currently worth 6.3 points in the Women's Code of Points.
Amânar retired in 2000, shortly after the Olympic Games. She married Cosmin Tabără, a lawyer, on March 9, 2002, in Timişoara. She gave birth to a son, Alexandru Iosif, five months later. She is the vice president of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation.
|GBR-ROM Dual Meet||3rd||1st|
|International Mixed Pairs||6th|
|USA-ROM Dual Meet||7th||1st|
|Team World Championships||1st|
|FRA-ROM Dual Meet||2nd||1st|
|GBR-ROM Dual Meet||3rd||1st|
|ROM-GER Dual Meet||3rd||1st|
|International Championships of Romania||1st|
|Arthur Gander Memorial||1st|
|Arthur Gander Memorial||2nd|
|International Mixed Pairs||1st||1st|
|Cottbus World Cup||2nd||7th||2nd|
- List of Olympic female gymnasts for Romania
- List of top Olympic gymnastics medalists
- List of top medalists at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships
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