Once upon a time, November and December were when gymnasts recovered from their year's efforts. Sure, a few competitions were held toward the end of the year (notably the Chunichi Cup and the DTB Cup), but by and large, gymnasts used November and December (as well as January and February) to recuperate and learn new skills and/or routines. And then the bunch of crazy people known collectively as the FIG introduced the Grand Prix cycle, and the competitive year just became a bit longer and more exhausting for certain gymnasts.
Take Sandra Izbaşa, for instance. Did you think she'd rest on her laurels after winning that Olympic gold medal on floor? Hell, no. According to ProSport, Izbaşa has just announced that she'll participate in five more competitions this year: the Arthur Gander Memorial and Swiss Cup in Switzerland, the Toyota Cup in Japan, the Milan Grand Prix in Italy, and the World Cup Final in Spain. These competitions will be held on October 29, November 2, November 15, November 22, and December 12, respectively, meaning Izbasa will be competing until the second half of December. She herself is the first to admit it's all a bit much: "I'll have a hellish schedule. But I'm not afraid, as I've done series of competitions before, and besides I've got plenty of rest [since the Olympics]. It's time to show that my place is in the competition arena. Moreover, I'll do floor, the event on which I feel great, and possibly also beam, depending on what scores I get."
So why is she putting herself through such a demanding schedule? "I long for the audience, for the competition arena, for everyone who will be there watching me. I long to make every leap count. But mostly I long to compete, to feel the rhythm of the music, to work as hard as I can and to hear the applause afterwards."
Apparently, Izbaşa will be the only one representing Romania at the aforementioned competitions. National team coach Nicolae Forminte was quoted by ProSport as saying, "Tămîrjan and Drăgoi are still recovering, and Sandra was the only one who was sufficiently prepared to honor the invitations from the Grand Prix events. Grigore has sprained her ankle, and the other girls are struggling to find their motivation."
Ah well. Best of luck to Izbaşa, then. And to all those Romanian national team members who are apparently struggling to find their motivation. Ahem.