Lavinia Agache (ROM)
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
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
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
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.