|Image by Andreea Raducan's Official Facebook page|
Andreea Raducan is no ordinary gymnast not just for winning an Olympic all around champion but also for her ability to move on after being unfairly stripped of her most prestigious medal. Raducan managed to win five medals at the post Olympic World championships including three gold medals. Raducan officially retired in 2002, she is now a successful sports announcer.
Here is Andreea revealing her secrets to WOGymnastike as a gymnast and as an adult.
Gigi : What do you think of today's Romanian gymnastics?
Andreea : The Romanian gymnastics has suffered the past few years. At the Olympic Games we were able to have a well experienced team, with gymnasts such as Catalina Ponor and Sandra Izbasa, standing by the side of their teammates and talented gymnasts who have a strong desire to win medals such as Larisa Iordache and Diana Bulimar. A different team, but one that is truly beautiful.
Gigi: Are you content about the results of the Romanian gymnastics team in
Andreea: Gymnastics is a sport which is popular in Romania and is the one sport mostly rewarded for us, medal wise. It is thus only natural that we wish to get as many medals as possible at important competitions . The results we achieved in London brought us great honor, and yes, most certainly we wanted another medal on the balance beam and maybe one more in floor final. We continue to be in the top ranking gymnasts worldwide and that is what counts.
Gigi: Who are the foreign gymnasts you enjoyed watching at the London Olympics?
Andreea: It is only natural that I rooted for the Romanian gymnasts, but I also enjoyed watching Aliya Mustafina, Viktoria Komova or Alexandra Raisman. I also appreciated the elegance of the Chinese gymnasts.
Gigi: You retired in 2002, Have you ever though of making a comeback and try to make the 2004 Olympic team?
Andreea: It is true that I ended my career in 2002 and ever since that moment, I have never thought of coming back even for a second . I came to conclusion that exactly in that moment I had been able to rise up to the challenge when it comes to the results i had achieved. I had done this sport with love and dedication and I stepped out when my body demanded it from me. There were also some medical and weight related problems.
Gigi: You were unfairly stripped of the Olympic all around gold medal,How did you move on?
Andreea: For me, that was a true life lesson. An extremely unpleasant one. I had incredible support during that period of time and that helped a lot. I learnt how to see the good side of any experience I go through. I have always said that I lost an Olympic title but I won the respect and unconditional care of millions of people.
Gigi : Have you though of quitting gymnastics afterwards?
Andreea: It is only normal that in this type of situations it is difficult to stay positive. As at that time I didn't understand how is it possible to lose an Olympic title for which I had worked hard ever since I was a child, without even being wrong. That kind of wisdom is something you cannot ask for to a grown-up let alone a child.
Gigi: The vault was set incorrectly and one of the gymnasts who were affected by that was one of the favorites to win and your rival at that time Svetlana Khorkina, Do you think if the vault was set correctly in the first place, you would have still won the gold medal?
Andreea: I was one of those gymnasts who vaulted on the incorrectly set vault and i was able to perform my vaults really well, unlike most of the gymnasts who vaulted during the first two rotations. And for this reason I can allow myself to answer this question with - Yes, I think that I would have still become the Olympic champion, even if the vault had been set at the correct height from the beginning. It is just more likely that my vaults would have been even better!
Gigi: What came to your mind when they told you that you have tested positive for a banned substance?
Andreea: The story is really sad. I never imagined I would go through such moments. So no, I was never prepared for something like that. My plans for this competition were entirely different and really wonderful. Some came true, and some didn't. I was so glad to have performed so well as I won the gold medal with the team, and of course, the Olympic title I had won at the all around final and the silver medal on the vault.
Gigi: As a result, You received a great amount of support in and out of Romania, Did you expect it?
Andreea: The whole situation was blown out of proportions which I hadn`t anticipated. And, if Romanians were supportive because I was one of them, people from all over the world understood the injustice that had been done, acknowledging me as the Olympic all-around champion and encouraging me. It is really hard to understand and even harder to believe that a simple pill for the flu – Nurofen – could cause me to lose the Olympic title.
Gigi: Do you think someday you will officially get your medal back?
Andreea: Apart from all the values that IOC promotes, each competition lies under the principle of fair-play. Consequently, I consider that giving me the medal would be a proof of this fair-play. They knew it from back then and I am convinced that they now understand that I was innocent and that the medal I won was following a really good performance I had managed to pull through.
Gigi: At the post Olympic worlds, Did you feel the pressure of having to win as many medals as possible so that you can prove to the whole world that you deserved the Olympic all around gold medal?
Andreea: I think that`s what the entire world was thinking… the fact that it would prove the difficulty of getting back to the gym and compete again. Everybody was curious to know how exactly I had overcome the unpleasant situation in Sydney. In spite of this, when I went to the World Championship in Gent, I did not do it in order to prove something to anybody, and this being the case I am happy to have won 3 gold and 2 bronze medals at a world competition. I don`t think anyone doubted my abilities and worth as a gymnast, neither in the Sydney competition, not at the Gent World Championship one year later. If someone thinks that a pill taken for a cold can turn you into an Olympic champion then they have a real issue.
Gigi: Do you sometimes hold your medals and feel nostalgic?
Andreea: I have always said that I miss the spirit of the competition and the competitions back then. But I know in my heart that I have done gymnastics for as long as I felt I could perform at the highest of standards, for which I and those who supported me could be proud.
Gigi: A lot of your fans including me would love to see you get your medal back,What should we do in order to make it happen?
Andreea: I appreciate it and thank you dearly. You realize though, that if I knew the easiest way I could get those who need to publicly admit the error, I would do so. This is not necessarily a priority, I am carrying on with my beautiful life without the medal and if, at a certain point I would feel I have the opportunity to solve this case, I am going to take this step then.
Gigi: Two years ago i read that you would love to play Nina in a Romanian version of "The Black Swan", Is there any upcoming project ?
Andreea: I do not know from where did you hear this, I just mentioned that I particularly liked Natalie Portman starring in the movie Black Swan. And, if I wasn't involved in artistic gymnastics, I would have done rhythmic gymnastics or ballet.
Gigi: If you had a daughter, Would you enroll her in gymnastics?
Andreea: It is my wish to have a boy, but if I were to have a girl, she would definitely step inside the gym. And if she chose a career in gymnastics, she will benefit from all my support.
Gigi: What countries would you like to visit ?
Andreea: There are several countries where I`ve been and would like to go back. On top of that, I haven`t visited countries such as New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba …
Gigi: How does Andreea Raducan see herself in 5 years?
Andreea: A great part of the projects I have set out for myself have been carried out successfully and some are close to the finish line. I will try to dedicate a little bit more time to my personal life and I truly hope that I will be a mother in the near future.
Gigi: What would you like to say to your world wide fans?
Andreea: First and foremost, I would like to thank them for all the support they gave me when I was a gymnast. I am really glad that they are curious up to this day of how my life has turned out to be, after ending my career as a gymnast, and mostly that they are interested in the projects that I am developing. I hope I haven`t let them down and I wish them the best of luck in all their projects!.
Gigi Khazback: Andreea Raducan was my first ever favorite gymnast so it was really special to have her as my first ever gymnast to interview. Andreea Raducan was nothing but kind to me and respectful. When i first told her i want to do an interview with her, she quickly responded and gave me the link to her site where i can send her my questions, she even sent me an email to tell me she has received my mail and later she sent me her answers. Thank you Andreea, You truly deserved all the support you had.
Interview by Gigi Khazback Farid