Only Four Days With Their Parents

Unknown Romanian Newspaper, Aug. 25, 1992   At the return of our gymnasts from Barcelona, after the most difficult competition, we managed to speak to our stars Lavinia Milosovici and Cristina Bontas.

Q.  Girls, how was the competition?

"It was very hard," said Lavinia, "but we were prepared for it.  Although we were confused about the strength of the audience.  None of us understood why we received so little applause.  Many Americans were in the gym hall and their girls were cheered whenever they performed on the apparatus.  The Spanish supported the ex-Soviets and, even more, Henrietta Onodi.  When we appeared, there was silence.  I think that only in the event finals could we really get some attention."

Q.  That wonderful floor exercise worth 10 points was very distinguished.

"Yes, I believe that it was an impressive score and, anyhow, the floor attracts a lot of attention because of the music," said Lavinia.

"It was very difficult for me to resist the heat," said Cristina Bontas.  "I couldn't get enough rest and I think this was my bad luck.  In the room there wasn't a drop of air, and at night it became a nightmare.  I was soaked in sweat and succeeded only with difficulty to fall asleep in the early morning.  But the real problem was that I hurt my back again.  Moreover, there was the matter of propaganda about Karolyi, which made the atmosphere ugly.  Before the competition, we heard his declaration that only the CIS and USA teams would fight for the gold medal, and in the all-around only the Hungarian Onodi could enter the ranks of the ex-Soviets and Americans.  Rather ugly, no?  For all of us, we worked ambitiously, so that a bad reaction was not produced.  The finals were discouraging.  Our trainers told us that they saw a newspaper article in which the text said, 'Bela, go back to your ranch, listen to how the grass grows, and milk your cows!  It's time for you to retire!'  I believe that such a declaration might actually make Karolyi retire, which would threaten gymnastics."

Lavinia laughed. "He'll retire?  Who told you that?  I, for one, don't believe it, because the next Olympics will be in his homeland.  Pardon me, his new homeland.  In the end, we were better.  If I had landed perfectly from the uneven bars, I would have won the all-around."

Q.  Anyway, two gold medals is not at all bad!

"It isn't but I feel that I should have gotten more of them," said Lavinia.

Q.  Now it's over, and everyone agrees that you were wonderful.  What's next?

"I was home only four days, though I wanted to spend at least a week there," said Lavinia.  "I don't stay with my mother and father very much!  But this is how it is...  We'll go to the sea, to Mamaia, for ten days.  After this we'll find out exactly when we will start to train again."

"It will be more complicated for me," said Cristina.  "I want to attend university in Bacau, because I'll be close to home.  But I'm not sure how long I'll continue in gymnastics.  I'm already 18 and I'm not a 'little girl' any more who thinks about Atlanta.  I didn't have a childhood, I didn't play games, I didn't eat, and I couldn't even enjoy my years as a student.  But I'll see what happens in September."


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