February 17, 2009

Sandra Izbaşa: "I'd Have a Hard Time Retiring"

Gazeta Sporturilor posted an interview with Sandra Izbaşa today. It doesn't contain a lot of new information, but it's a nice read, with some tantalizing tidbits on her new floor routine. Here it is...

(Photo: Gazeta Sporturilor)

"It's like a profession to me"

Sandra Izbaşa explains why she didn't leave Deva after the Olympics
Sandra Izbaşa is still at Deva. This year she will turn nineteen, in June. She is the Olympic champion on floor, as well as a double European champion on the same event. Why hasn't she left the sport she has been doing for fifteen years now?

"Gymnastics has gotten into my blood. I'd find it hard to retire. It's like a profession to me. What would I do at home? Get bored, that's what I'd do!" says Sandra Izbaşa when we catch up with her one evening at the foot of the Deva fortress. She has just finished another one of the thousands of workouts she has had in her career. And the counting is not over yet... No sooner has she finished speaking about boredom than she starts about something else: "At age eighteen female gymnasts begin to mature. What would I do at home? Divide my time between home and school? At least I'm doing something constructive now. This year I'll have to graduate from high school, and then there's a gold medal at the world championships to be won," adds Sandra.

"I'd have a hard time retiring"
The gold medal at the world championships is the only one which has so far eluded her. "World championships are not like the Olympics. If I had screwed up in Beijing, I would have had a problem. But the world championships are held every year," says Sandra. The gymnast from Bucharest has competed in two world championships, where she has won three medals: a silver on beam (2006) and two bronzes, one in the all-around (2006) and one with the team (2007).

The colors of the Olympics
Makeup is part of a female gymnast's job description. Girls made to look older by means of layers of color. Why do gymnasts use makeup? "Ever since I was a child I've been taught to use certain facial expressions and makeup. When I couldn't put on my makeup myself, my female coaches would help me. They taught me that I'm an artist, not on the stage but on four apparatus," explains Sandra. At the Olympics, her colors were black, blue and orange. Sandra would have liked to use white as well, but "I'm quite pale enough as is."

From happiness to sadness
Sandra has taken her Olympic floor routine with her into 2009, even if she is also preparing a new routine. "I've mastered both routines very well. The music is from the same theme I used in Beijing, but it's not happy anymore, but sad," adds the double European champion on floor. [We take this to mean that Sandra is using music from the Bandyta soundtrack by Michal Lorenc again, but a less cheerful part of it this time around.]

(Photo: ProSport)

Even so, what would Sandra like to do once she has retired? "Listen to music, manage to do some sports-like dancing... I would have said handball, but I don't want to have any elbows shoved into my mouth anymore. I had enough of that when I was young. Furthermore, I'd like to take walks and relax," says the gymnast.

But until she gets time for all that, Sandra still has a lot of training ahead of her. Even though she uses makeup, is about to get her driver's license, and will turn nineteen this year, Sandra finishes off our evening chat with the words, "In other respects I'm [still] a child."

The program for 2009
Sandra's first competition of 2009 will take place on February 21, in America, in Oklahoma. Together with Andreea Grigore [nope - Dana Druncea] she will compete in the meet organized by Nadia Comăneci. Before the European Championships in April, Sandra is also scheduled to take part in a friendly against Italy.


  1. She doesn't want any more elbows shoved into her mouth? What am I missing here.

  2. It's probably a figurative expression that didn't translate well from Romanian to English. It happens all the time :p

    I'm not sure I understand what she means by sadness on her floor routine. She is sad that she's still using the same music? Or she has new music from the same soundtrack but with a sad tone?

  3. We're pretty sure the elbow remark is meant to be taken literally. Apparently handball players like to push and shove each other around. Should it be "I don't want to have any elbows shoved into my mouth anymore"?

    Nico, we assume she means the music sounds sad. Her old music was melancholy but upbeat; we guess her new music is melancholy without being upbeat. We're picturing something slow and sad. We'll adjust the translation to make this clearer.

  4. Sandra finishes off our evening chat with the words, "In other respects I'm a child."

    Is it not "i am a different child"

  5. What I meant was why did she get so many elbows into her mouth when she was young?

    I think "I don't want more elbows in my mouth" would work. I don't know Romanian so I can't translate interpret the text for myself.

  6. Anonymous, we don't think so. It means either "I'm a child in a different way," "in other respects I'm a child" or "otherwise I'm a child." "I'm a different child" would be Sunt un alt copil.

    Cidlover, she got elbows in her mouth because she used to play handball. We're guessing you've never played handball. It's a pretty rough sport in which people get shoved around a lot. Pushing others away with one's elbows is a way of life in the sport.

  7. Haha, the elbow quote definitely made me laugh out loud. I had some interesting images in my head... poor Sandra!

    Anyway, it is nice to see her beautiful face again, and I'm looking forward to seeing her at Europeans (!!!!).

  8. I just didn't know she used to play handball. I thought her talking about playing handball was just something random and I wondered why she said it. Thanks for clarifying.

  9. You're welcome, Cidlover. It's been mentioned in quite a few stories about Sandra that she used to play handball on top of being a gymnast. By all accounts she was as good at handball as she was at gymnastics. However, she had to focus on one sport, and luckily for us, she chose gymnastics.

    Kayla, we look forward to seeing Sandra in Milan as well!

  10. I love reading these posts about Sandra.
    They make my day :D

  11. Gym Girls, just wanted to let you know that I have a Twitter feed set up for Scam today at twitter.com/vanessasteck. I will update it during Scam. And tonight I will post pictures and commentary at vanessasteck.wordpress.com.
    Thanks! and great article about Sandra! As always, thanks for all the hard work.

  12. Did I leave a comment earlier re twitter feed at twitter.com/vanessasteck? I thought i had but I dont see it. I was tweeting scam and I hope somebody saw it...
    ANyway, pics from scam will be at vanessasteck.wordpress.com late tonight!

  13. I posted my videos of Sandra and Daniela competing at the Nadia Comaneci invitational at http://www.youtube.com/amygym. I literally JUST put them up though so it might be a few minutes before they are "live". You're welcome to link if you'd like.

    She has exactly the same floor music as far as I can tell, but she didn't look quite as happy as she did at the Olympics! Maybe she just meant it's sad for her to use it now after she's had such success with it?? No idea...what a strange quote. I was fortunate enough to get a picture with her afterwards, I should have been a good little investigative journalist and asked her!!

    She only competed a yurchenko with a full twist (and won the vault with a 14.4 i think). On bars she didnt even compete an actual dismount, just a simple front tuck. (i mean i guess that is an actual dismount but you know what i mean!) She looked good on beam just a lot of balance checks, and her usual stellar self on floor! :)

  14. Love your blog here. I've enjoyed reading a few of your posts, and will be back for more.