Lavinia Agache (ROM)

Lavinia Agache performs at the 1983 World Championships. Photo by Tom Theobald. Check out Tom's photography site!

For a listing of Lavinia Agache's competitive results, please visit Gymn Forum's Lavinia Agache Biography.

Lavinia Agache was born on February 11, 1968 in Caiute, Romania. During her gymnastics career, her date of birth was actually reported as February 11, 1967. This "extra" year meant that Agache met the minimum age requirement for the 1981 World Championships.

She began gymnastics at age 6, under the tutelage of Mihai Agoston and Maria Florescu. She later moved to the national training center in Deva to train under Bela and Marta Karolyi. 

A decorated gymnast in her own right, Agache is unfortunately often remembered for who she was not - teammate Ecaterina Szabo. Early in their careers, Agache and Szabo were unwillingly involved in a scandal with embarrassing consequences. As the story goes, Bela Karolyi brought a gymnast from Romania to compete in the 1981 International Gymnastics Classic in Los Angeles. The gymnast was entered under the name Ecaterina Szabo, a fact which many later questioned, alleging that in fact fellow Romanian teammate Lavinia Agache was impersonating Ecaterina Szabo. 

Later that year, when the Romanian Tour (Nadia< '81) came to the USA, the announcer introduced the touring members. Bart Conner turned when Szabo's name was called, expecting to see the girl he'd met earlier in Los Angeles, but it was not her. Rather, the girl he remembered Los Angeles was now introduced as Lavinia Agache.

Interestingly, the Romanian gymnastics federation responded to an inquiry made by International Gymnast magazine, involving yet a third gymnast. The Romanians wrote that Cristina Grigoras was initially supposed to compete in the meet, but became "unavailable at that moment." As a result, the federation decided to replace her by Lavinia Agache. Strangely, they made no mention of Ecaterina Szabo and it was Szabo's name, not Grigoras', that was called. As the reigning Junior European Champion at the time, it certainly would have been a coup for the organizers of the meet to have Szabo compete.

Luckily, the embarrassing Agache/Szabo scandle did not taint either Szabo's or Agache's careers. Agache had already heralded herself as one to watch the year before, placing third AA at the 1980 Junior European Championships. In 1981 she went on to win the International Japan Junior Invitational. In her first World Championships, in 1981 in Moscow, she placed 7th AA. In 1982 she placed 3rd AA at the World Cup and won the silver medal on floor.

Agache shone at the 1983 World Championships, the only gymnast to qualify to all four event finals. She picked up medals on vault (silver), uneven bars (silver), and beam (bronze). These complemented her team silver and sixth place all-around standing.

Agache competed at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, contributing to her team's gold medal. She qualified to two event finals, vault and bars, earning a bronze medal on vault. Despite the two medals, Agache continues to harbour mixed feelings about Los Angeles. Indeed, she was in first place after team compulsories, but a disastrous performance during team optionals prevented her from qualifying to the all-around competition. Agache blames the medication she was given prior to the start of the meet - medication that was supposed to combat the effects of jet lag - for the lack of vertigo.

Agache pressed on following the 1984 Olympics, but retired in 1985 after injuring her knee at the 1985 World University Games. She reappeared in 1991, where she compete at the inaugural World Professional Championships. I presume that she decided to stay in the US following her appearance at these Championships, because by early 1992 she was participating in various gymnastics shows (e.g., the 1992 Sudafed Skating & Gymnastics Spectacular) and coaching in Oklahoma.

According to the April 1992 issue of International Gymnast magazine, Agache married Tom Carney on March 6, 1995 in Boca Raton, Florida. Several years later, the couple moved to Bakersfield, California where Lavinia worked as a coach.

Tom and Lavinia eventually moved back to Florida, and to a life of much commuting. Lavinia began coaching Orlando Metro Gymnastics while Tom worked as an officer in the Boca Raton police department. Lavinia now coaches at Everglades Gymnastics in Davie, Florida. Tom has high praise for his wife, "America should use her more with their gymnastics, she is a real student of the game."

Many thanks to Tom Carney for keeping me up-to-date about Lavinia's whereabouts.

. This page was created on May 25, 1999 and last updated on December 24, 2000.


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