January 5, 2009

Meanwhile, in Romanian Men's Gymnastics...

As of this week, the Romanian men's team has a new head coach. Hugely experienced coach Dan Grecu resigned at the end of last year after guiding the Romanian team for 24 years, which must be some kind of record. His successor is a familiar face: Nicuşor Pascu, who was a member of the Romanian team in the late 1980s. From 1998 until quite recently, Pascu coached the Swiss men, but his contract was not renewed at the end of 2008. So now he has returned to Romania, to take on a team which has been very successful over the last few years but seems in need of a boost now.

The following story was posted by Adevărul (The Truth) on January 5.

Nicuşor Pascu (photo: ProSport)

Nicuşor Pascu: "I Want to Form a Team"

Any day now Nicuşor Pascu will sign the contract which will make him the new coach of the national men's gymnastics team. His dream is to get the boys on the podium as many times as possible. After spending the better part of a decade in the country of the cantons, where he led the Swiss national gymnastics team, Nicuşor Pascu is coming home, to helm our own national team.

At age 29, Nicuşor Pascu went to Switzerland, to lead the national gymnastics team of that country. Ten years later, Romania needs him, in the very same position, and he has responded affirmatively to the calls, even though he received much more lucrative offers from other countries.

He is aware that he will earn less money, but that does not bother him. He has lived abroad and has reached that maturity which comes with a realization that there is more to life than being well off. He has a happy family, but home, to him, means Romania.

"Even though I was far away, I've always remained close to my country, to the athletes, and I know what's going on in Romanian gymnastics," Pascu says.

Official head coach from this week onward

For the time being he is only theoretically the new coach of the national senior men's team. He is currently waiting for the Romanian Gymnastics Federation to sign his contract.

"On January 4 I'll be in Bucharest, and on January 5 I'll meet with the Federation and the boys. I hope we can finish all the paper work then," says Nicuşor Pascu, who spent Christmas and New Year in Romania, at his parents' place in Braşov, with his wife and three daughters.

In the old days, he would pack his bags after such a vacation and return to Switzerland, but now the new coach will leave the rest of his family to do that.

"My wife and the girls will stay in Switzerland for a while, while I sort out some things here. This week I'll have to find us a place to live in Bucharest and talk to the French School, where I'd like my girls to continue their education," Pascu explained.

Pascu's wife is a gymnastics coach herself, originally from Oneşti. Unfortunately they can't work together, because the Romanian Gymnastics Federation has axed the position of choreographer. [Figures. We wouldn't want our gymnasts to look artistic, would we?]

A team in the true sense of the word

Nicuşor Pascu has his work cut out for him, but he is not afraid. Just a little nervous. He is the successor to an excellent male gymnast and coach, Dan Grecu, who managed to raise Romania's male gymnasts to the level where they could win medals at international competitions.

Pascu's former coach, Dan Grecu (photo: ProSport)

Pascu himself passed through the hands of the legendary coach, but as a former pupil, he wants nothing more than to outshine his mentor and bring Romania as many medals as possible.

But his first step, before any medals can be won, will be to form a team out of the fifteen gymnasts he has at his disposal, by which he means getting "understanding, friendship and mutual help" from all the members of the team. Naturally, his pupils will also be required to observe discipline.

"Over the last two years, Romanian men's gymnastics has regressed. I think that what the boys were lacking during that time was the motivation of doing gymnastics for results, for the country," said Pascu, who competed for Romania himself twenty years ago.

Awaiting Marian Drăgulescu's decision

European vice-champion [on high bar] in 1989, Nicuşor Pascu became a coach at the tender age of 21. He regrets that he retired from gymnastics so early, but is now trying to find what he left unexploited in himself in his pupils. This is also how he discovered Marian Drăgulescu, whom he coached as a junior, between 1994 and 1996.

Marian Drăgulescu (photo: AFP/Getty)

He would like to meet Drăgulescu once more in the same situation (him being the coach and Marian being the gymnast) a decade onward, but the decision does not belong to him. "I'm in touch with Marian. I'm leaving it up to him to say what he wishes to do now, how he's feeling. I'm awaiting his final decision, any day now."

Nicuşor Pascu and Marian Drăgulescu are friends outside the gym as well. Marian's daughter is the goddaughter of the coach's family.

Note: Other sites have reported that Pascu's contract has by now been signed and that he has started working with the team. There is no news yet on whether Marian Drăgulescu will stay on the team. After Beijing, Drăgulescu said he would retire at the end of 2008, but a few months ago, having experienced some success in the German Bundesliga, he said he might reconsider that decision. Stay tuned...

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