January 23, 2009

Marian Dragulescu: "I Have Time to Get to the Stage Where I'll Coach the National Junior Team and the National Senior Team"

Quite a few Romanian sites are posting stories about Marian Drăgulescu's new career as a coach. First there was the ProSport story we quickly referred to in our news roundup, whose headline ran, "Kindergarten Cop" (a reference to the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie of that name). Then Adevărul interviewed Drăgulescu about his new career, and finally Confidenţial asked him some questions about life in general. We have translated the Adevărul article for you, as well as a few questions from the Confidenţial interview. Enjoy!

(Photo: ProSport)

"I want to take it to a higher level step by step"

Marian Drăgulescu is working alongside his former teammates, Marius Urzică and Dan Potra. Less than a week after he announced his retirement from competitive gymnastics, the former champion is back in the gym.

Adevărul: How was your first day at work, Marian?

Marian Drăgulescu: It's tiring, because there are a lot of kids and you constantly have to keep your eyes on them, just in case, God forbid, something happens. As you've seen for yourself, there are kids of many different ages, and that's what kids are like. They run, they jump... Other than that, I had a good feeling about it. This is my environment, with the sole exception that I'm not training anymore myself. Yes, I'm still moving around a bit, because you can't just suddenly quit like that, and afterward you have to explain things to them...

Q: Can you remember what it was like when you were their age?

A: I started doing gymnastics when I was seven. I've been an athlete for 21 years... I started at Triumf, as it was called at the time, and I also trained at Lia Manoliu. I was selected at school. That's what we will do too if we don't get enough children. They probably noticed I was energetic and liked getting around, so they took me. As I remember it, it was all a game at first. We did rolls, we jumped, we hang from all the apparatus, we climbed onto the horse, but after a while it became a "systematic game", and we got some compulsory elements, and we played truant...

Q: What was the crucial moment in your career?

A: My happiest moment was when I was selected for the junior team at age 14. Until then I'd been transferred from one group to another, because many groups were being abolished because so many boys were leaving the sport. In 1995 I was selected for the junior team and I felt quite proud, because apparently I was a good gymnast. I don't remember exactly when I won my first medal at a national championship, but I won my first European medal in 1998. [Gold on pommel horse, silver on floor and bronze on floor at the Junior European Championships.]

Q: What did your parents say when you joined a gymnastics club?

A: My Mom was happy, as she had done gymnastics herself. I hail from a sports-loving family. My Dad used to practice several sports: boxing, body-building and wrestling. And that's not all; he was also a musician... My two brothers also practiced sports - gymnastics and soccer - and they were quite talented, but they didn't stick with it. So basically everyone around me supported me when I was young, taking into consideration that I went into an systematic program to practice my sport and had a strict schedule. I didn't spend time anywhere else.

Q: Why did you quit in order to coach children?

A: I didn't quit. Actually, this is just the first stage. If I had gone straight to Mr. Pascu [the new head coach of the national men's team] to help him out with the national team, it would be as if I'd skip a few stages. This is where kids take their first steps. This is where we give them their basics, and we need to do that on a step-by-step basis. Mr. Pascu, too, used to coach much younger boys. I'm starting at the bottom, only to arrive at the top. I've only just begun. I have time to get to the stage where I'll coach the national junior team and the national senior team.

Q: What are your objectives with these kids?

A: I want them to win domestic competitions and medals at international competitions, but what I'd really like and what I'm hoping very much is that they will make the national junior team and then the national team.

Q: What will you miss most?

A: If I had changed my environment, I would have said gymnastics, but this way I'll stay in the gym just like before - just in a different position. We will be able to recreate the atmosphere we had on the national team in this gym, because I'm working alongside Marius Urzică and Dan Potra, who have also been hired to work here. As for competition nerves, I will still have those, but definitely in a different way and probably more intensely than before, because things won't depend on me anymore, but on those I've coached. My work will be seen in their routines.

Together with the rest of the Dinamo team, Marian Drăgulescu will coach 22 boys, aged between 6 and 14. "For the moment we have enough kids to coach. If, at any point, we won't have enough kids, we will start visiting schools. And on top of that there are groups of girls," says the multiple champion.

On his first day on the job (Thursday, January 15), he worked for a good five hours, from 1 to 6pm. "That will be my schedule, more or less, but we'll take it in turns, which means I'll also work on the mornings sometimes."

He would like to be remembered by the world in years to come for his five medals at World Championships and his three Olympic medals. "I hope people will remember I was a gymnastics champion," says the current coach.

(Photo: Adina Blaj/Adevărul)

In addition to the Adevărul interview, Romanian magazine Confidenţial recently published an interview with Marian Drăgulescu. Sadly, we don't have access to the whole interview, but Gazeta Sporturilor kindly reprinted a few questions from it:

- If you could swap lives with anyone, whom would you pick?
I like my life and I wouldn't swap with anyone or anyone in the world.

- What would you like to invent?
I'd like an invention which would help all children to be born healthy.

- What's the heaviest blow you have received?
My daughter's health problems.

- What do you have that you wish you didn't have?
I'm content with everything I've achieved and with everything I have.

We're glad to hear Marian is content...

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