Simona Amânar

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Simona Amânar : biography

October 7, 1979 –

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. Her failure to score well on the floor was also evident when she failed to medal on floor at the 1995 Worlds or qualify for the event finals on floor at the 1997 Worlds.

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.

1994

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.

1997

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 a considerable weakness for her due to failing to remain in layout position. She did, however, unlike most of her competitors, complete the required half turn onto the horse, twist in the same direction off the horse as she twisted onto the horse, and twist early enough off the horse to perform an Arabian front. (Her teammate, 1997 World bronze vault medalist Gina Gogean, who also won several World and Olympic vault medals, not only twisted in two different directions, but completed her second half twist far too late for it to be a true Arabian to front salto; rather than perform the Phelps with which she was credited, she performed a layout tsukahara with a half twist). 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.

2000

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.

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 2 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.