February 9, 2009

Steliana Nistor Turns Down American Offer to Finish Degree in Romania

It never rains but it pours. A while ago, we couldn't find anything on Steliana Nistor, but were swamped with stories about Sandra Izbaşa. Now it appears to be Nistor Time in the Romanian press. A week after the Revista VIP story we posted a few days ago, Adevărul posted a story about the former gymnast. Her health issues do get a mention, but most of the article is about Steliana's new life in her new apartment. Interestingly, the article says that Steliana turned down an offer to become a coach in America in order to finish her degree in Romania. It's probably a good thing she did; we doubt someone who can barely lift a cup of water would make a good coach. However, we do hope the offer will be renewed once Steliana has finished her degree and is feeling a bit better...

This is the Adevărul story. It has a very abrupt ending, but that might be because it's only the first half of a two-part story. It wouldn't be the first time Adevărul cut a story into two without mentioning it.


Steliana Nistor: Life After Gymnastics

The specially designed wall in the new home she received from the Sibiu municipal authorities is equipped with shelves full of trophies, medals and photos spanning her entire career. There are dozens of them. There's a story behind each and every single one of them, but Steliana never gets them mixed up. She remembers every single event and has a thorough recollection of how hard she had to work for each of them, as well as of her nerves she experienced and her happiness whenever she got to step onto the medal rostrum.

She doesn't have time to tell all the stories, because doing so would take all day, and she doesn't have much time, especially now that she is trying to make up for the time she "lost" while training and competing.

"Now I know what time is worth, and I'm doing everything I haven't been able to do over the last nineteen years," says the gymnast who became European champion with the team last year.

"She can't get enough of staying in town with friends and fellow students, and of breathing the free air," says her mother, who shares her daughter's first name, Steliana. At the moment her time is divided between studying, friends and recovery from injuries.

Steliana the student (photo: ProSport)

Studying instead of America

No sooner had she announced her retirement than Steliana received an offer to cross the Atlantic, to become a coach in America. The invitation came from her former junior coach, Livia Ponoran, who now coaches at a gymnastics academy in America. [Last thing we heard, Ponoran had just joined the coaching staff at WOGA.] Knowing her former pupil's ambitions and capacities, and also the state of Romanian gymnastics, especially in relation to young gymnasts who cannot compete anymore, Ponoran decided to invite Steliana to the United States.

"I received an invitation from Livia Ponoran, but first I want to finish the degree I have embarked upon," confirms the European champion, who is in Year 1 of the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport in her place of birth. She would also like to study psychology, being goaded in that direction by her older brother Marian, but first she wishes to see how she'll do with the one course on which she has already embarked.

Her flatmate: Puffy

As a thank-you for her hard work and for the fact that she put Sibiu on the sporting map, Steliana received a rental apartment from the town council last year. The moment you enter the house, or rather the living room, you are greeted by a whole wall full of trophies.

Her bedroom is taken up by a few plush dolls which remind her of her glory days and her fans. "I have many more dolls than these, but I'm still waiting for a few pieces of furniture which I've ordered to put them in," says the bronze medalist of the Beijing Olympics. She has already finished furnishing her kitchen. "There's all sorts of equipment in there, but I can't cook. My Mom cooks my meals," adds Steliana.

And because she is living in her apartment on her own, her fellow students have given her a present: a perfectly white rabbit with reddish eyes, called Puffy, who keeps her entertained. "He's my flatmate," says Steliana, amused.

Steliana with Puffy (photo: Adina Blaj/Adevărul)

Help from Mariana Bitang

Health problems clipped her wings at an age at which she still had plenty to give to the sport. "Physically I can't do it anymore. It's hard, but I just can't," says the champion, who suffered a great deal at her last few competitions because of backaches and pain in her joints. She was an all-arounder, a complete gymnast who competed on all four events, and they all made demands on different parts of her body. After that sacrifice, one thing saddens Steliana.

"After you retire, people who used to receive you with eyes sparkling of joy and a smile around their lips close their door before you've even had a chance to ask something... I still have backaches and now I also have a problem with a joint in my hand. I have physical therapy every day, but nobody has helped me, except Mrs. Mariana Bitang."


  1. Steliana's rejecting an offer to go to America? Mike Brown's going to be pissed!

    Puffy looks albino to me.

  2. I wonder what Mariana Bitang is doing to help. I glad someone is helping out, though.

  3. If the offer was to coach at WOGA that sounds like it would have been a good opportunity for her. They might be able to help her out with her health issues there. I'm not sure if she knows enough English to go to school here though and it seems like education is important to her. I hope the offer is still available when she's done with school if it's something she wants to do.

    I hope your next post about Steliana is good news regarding her recovery. The Romanian gymnastics federation should pay for her health expenses considering all she has done for her country in this quad. I also hope her injuries are not permanent problems.

  4. So much for all my worries for Nistor. First she has a boyfriend. Now, she's turned down an job offer in america. I'll never worry for her again!!!

  5. Cidlover, that's what we thought when we posted the headline. We had a private chuckle over it.

    Muffy, we get the impression Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang are, for once, the good guys in this story. We're pretty certain that when Octavian Belu said in the VIP interview that they would help Steliana "from our own pockets," he meant his and Bitang's pockets. We have yet to see a similar response from Forminte or Stoica.

    Anonymous 1, we don't know that the offer involved WOGA. As far as we know, the Ponorans (Livia and her husband) joined the WOGA staff quite recently. Before that they coached somewhere else for two years. The offer may very well have been made before they switched to WOGA. We doubt WOGA would hire a completely inexperienced and injured coach, even if she did win a few world championship medals.

    Anonymous 2, we think Nistor still deserves some sympathy...

  6. This for all of the heartbroken guys (and possibly some girls): Steliana was out of your league to begin with.

  7. Sometimes I get the impression that Belu and Bitang show more affection and attention to former gymnasts that have retired, even if the gymnasts were troublesome during their career.

    For example, despite the pornography stunts of Milo, Ungureanu, and Presacan, they are still on good terms with Belu and Bitang. In fact, I think Belu really sympathized that they resorted to doing that. It also seems that Marinescu is in a good place with Belu and Bitang even after her book accusing the coaches of being abusive.

    I don't know. Maybe Belu and Bitang are sympathetic to their former gymnasts once they are out in the real world dealing with the problems of everyday life. When you've lived a sheltered life for many years only having to worry about training for the next competition in gymnastics, you don't have to worry so much about what's going on in the world. But then when your career is over, and you have to face life, it's a whole other ball game.

    I think Oana Petrovschi and Sabina Cojocar are the only gymnasts who still hold a grudge against Belu and Bitang.

  8. I think it's great that Bitang and Belu offered to help Stela. Now that I think of it, I do remember seeing on youtube a recent interview with Marinescu side by side with Belu. So it's nice to know that not everything about Belu and Bitang are evil.

  9. Belu (and Bitang) worked in the former guvrnmant as a State Secretary for Sport (something like a Sport Minister) and in the new governmant he's (Belu) the second person as importance in the romanian sport (after the Minister Monica Iacob-Ridzi) so it's thire job to help the athletes (not only gymnasts)...