In Memory of Adriana Giurca, 1982-1993
The training center for
Romania's national gymnastics squad, Deva is undoubtedly the best
known Romanian gymnastics "factory." It's closest rival is Bucharest's Dinamo Club school. Fans of the movie
may recall that it was the Dinamo club which "stole"
all of Karolyi's top athletes after the 1976 Olympics. In 1993,
one of Dinamo's promising young athletes was 11-year-old Adriana Giurca.
That November, Adriana was
training beam. From the start of the workout, coach Florin
Gheorghe was said to be in a bad mood. He demanded that
Adriana perform a dismount that she'd seldom been able to
complete, and when she stumbled, he exploded. He slapped
Adriana, then pounded her head against the balance balance beam.
Lying on the floor, he proceeded to kick her. Adriana stumbled to
her feet, and was ordered to proceed to the floor mat. When she
failed to complete an element from her floor exercise, she was
again punched and kicked...then came the bat.... Lying limp on
the floor, Adriana was rushed to the hospital. She died that
Even after Adriana died, Gheorghe was not immediately arrested. Although
there had been many witnesses, apparently coaches and fellow gymnasts were
scared to speak. Finally, one gymnast spoke up. Despite the vivid testimony and
photographs, Gheorghe was ordered to pay restitution (in the
amount the equivalent to $5,600 US) to Adriana's parents and was sentenced to only eight years in prison. Gheorghe appealed, and
the Romanian court relieved him of prison time but insisted on
payment. The Giurcas appealed the sentence, and Gheorghe was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison.
The Giurcas also tried to hold the Dinamo Club school responsible for
Adriana's death, claiming the school knew of Gheorghe's violent
behaviour. Indeed, Adriana would often come home from training
sessions badly bruised. Adriana apparently denied any
wrongdoings, insisting that she was happy and had been bruised
only from falls. Her parents did not believe her, and they
arranged a gym change for Adriana - the switch was to occur two
weeks following the death....
Gheorghe spent three and a half years in prison, released on parole for "good
behaviour." Three years after his release, Gheorghe granted an interview with Gazeta Sporturilor. "...I paid a price too high because I was honest and
correct," he told the Romanian newspaper. His plight caught the
attention of American journalist Eric Matson, who champions that "Gheorghe
did not harm Adriana. Nobody did. Adriana died of an aneurism." Matson
refers to Gheorghe as a "victim
of political convenience."
Following his release from prison Gheorghe worked to repay the reparations ordered to the Giurca family. He has received offers from other countries,
including South Africa, but wants to remain in Romania. Exiled from gymnasiums across Romania, Gheorghe is no longer a part of the sport. He has started his own company dealing with "interior
you would like copies of these articles please see your local librarian
for assistance or visit the associated websites and inquire about purchasing a back
copy. Please do not email and ask me to provide you with copies as I
am unable to do so. Thank you.
Bertelson, C. The littlest
Olympians: Female gymnasts are superb athletes, but they
never smile. St. Louis Post Dispatch.
July 23, 1996: pp 01B.
Hudson, M. Romanian
gymnasts murder puts negative light on sport. Los Angeles
Times. April 2, 1995: pp 05D.
Hudson, M. A tiny
gymnast's final tumble. Minneapolis
Star Tribune. April 10, 1995:
Wilson, T. What price
glory? Effects of gymnastics on physical and emotional
health. Sojourner, 22, 9-10
Plus translations from Citroen's Amazing
. This page was created on July 27, 1999 and last updated on July 31, 2001.