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."