Romanians are sharing a collective joy as their own Sandra Raluca Izbasa became the new vault Olympic champion on Sunday.
Keeping her cool , after nearly half of her opponents failed to execute podium-worthy vaults, Izbasa won her second Olympic title with an excellent performance, shattering US world champion McKayla Maroney’s hopes of gold.
Absolute favourite Maroney delivered a perfect Amanar first vault, which despite of a 0.3 deduction earned her 15.866 points. At her second attempt, it all went wrong and the American landed on her bum. Absolutely stunned, Maroney got an 8.200 for the execution, ending with the average score of 15.083.
Izbasa was the last one to compete. Calm and sure of herself, under the intense pressure from the North Greenwich Arena, she opted for two attempts less difficult than the other gymnasts’, yet safer. Her performance was rewarded with 15.191 and a most wanted gold medal. This is the second gold for Romania at the London Olympics after Alin Moldoveanu’s in 10m air rifle.
Maria Paseka of Russia won the bronze scoring 15.050.
Izbasa won her first Olympic title in Beijing on floor. Thanks to her Sunday’s accomplishment, Romania is now number 16 according to the gold rank, and has now a total of eight medals: two gold, four silver and two bronze. Four years ago in Beijing, Romania scored eight medals too, out of which four were gold.
Sandra Izbasa: Olympic vault champion, London 2012 - Youtube screenshot
Romanian gymnasts' quest for gold continues. They will perform in two more finals on Tuesday, August 7. Catalina Ponor and Diana Bulimar will work the beam. But the most anticipated final is the floor exercise where Izbasa and Ponor will compete. So, there’s hope for more medals in the Romanian squad.
Romania’s Flavius Koczi competed on Sunday as well in the men's floor final, but couldn’t make it above seventh place.
Last but not least, it is worth mentioning and applauding Germany’s Oksana Chusovitina for her inspirational career that spans over two decades and six Olympic Games. The 37-year old native of Uzbekistan competed in London for the last time, ending her career on fifth place in the women’s vault final.