Gina Gogean (ROM)

Photo by Matthew Barber

For a thorough listing of Gogean's competitive results, please see Gymn Forum's Gina Gogean bio

Originally from Campuri (a small Romanian village next to Focsani), Gina Gogean began gymnastics at CSS Focsani, coached by Sergiu and Tatiana Popa. As one of Romania's most promising juniors in the late 1980s, she was chosen to represent Romania at the prestigious International Japan Junior Invitational in 1989. Within months of this debut, gyms across Romanian were shaken in the aftermath of the Romanian revolution. Deva was temporarily closed, and promising juniors who'd been "promoted" to Deva were sent back to Onesti, the traditional training ground of Romanian junior gymnasts.

That year, the Romanian Gymnastics Federation opted to enter their most promising juniors in both junior and senior competitions, arguing that it was too difficult for them to keep track of the senior team. The wealth of experience paid off for Gogean - she was named to Romanian's 1992 Olympic team and despite being the team's youngest -- in 2002, Prosport revealed that her age was falsified, making her age eligible to compete as a senior in 1992 -- she qualified to the AA competition.

Following the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, many of Gogean's teammates retired. Gogean and Lavinia Milosovici quickly found themselves team veterans. Perhaps because of this new status, or perhaps because of changing ideologies in Romania, both began asking questions about prize money that was owed to them. Both eventually went on strike until they were given the award money that was owed to them.  

At the 1994 World Team Championships in Dortmund, Germany, Milosovici and Gogean led their team to the first of Romania's so-far four successive World team victories. It was at these 1994 Championships that Gogean suffered one of the worst falls on beam that many gymnastics fans have ever witnessed. Amazingly - and luckily - Gogean survived the fall without any injury.

Although both Gogean and Milosovici earned spots on Romania's 1996 Olympic team, that Gogean actually appeared in Atlanta was somewhat of a miracle. Only a few months before the Olympics, Gogean was on a train heading to Bucharest when she suddenly required an appendectomy. As soon as the train reached Bucharest she was whisked to surgery. Amazingly, only Bucharest housed the necessary medical equipment to perform the non-invasive appendectomy that Gogean required to even have a hope of regaining form to compete in Atlanta. Had she been traveling to any other city in Romania, the operation that she would have received would have required months of recuperation.

Once in Atlanta, Gogean's performances earned her a silver medal in the all-around and bronze medals in the team competition, vault, and balance beam. Following the 1996 Olympics, Milosovici retired and Gogean found herself in the uncomfortable and daunting position of being the leader of the Romanian team. She told Gym Stars, "I respect Milo because she always led our team well. I don't know if I can do it like she did." Despite her concern, Gogean lead her team to its third successive World team title at the 1997 Worlds in Lausanne, Switzerland. 

Most people believed Lausanne to be Gogean's final competition. Indeed, many believe that Gogean's generous scores reflected to judges' beliefs that Lausanne was to be her swan song. As such, it surprised everyone when Gogean reappeared in the 1998 World Cup circuit. During this World Cup circuit, Gogean opted to compete only in three events (omitting her least favourite event, uneven bars). She medalled on all three of these events at the 1998 World Cup finals in Sabae, Japan - her final competition. While critics have described Gogean's gymnastics as "uninspired," her consistent performances earned her 13 World Championship medals and five Olympic medals. 

Following her retirement, Gogean began studying to become a coach. Gina was eventually led back to Deva to coach Romania's most promising juniors alongside former teammate Lavinia Milosovici. In these roles, both continued to make huge contributions to Romanian gymnastics. In an abrupt turn of events however, both Gogean and Milosovici left Deva in December 1999. Gogean explained to ProSport, "...a job like this requires you to make some huge sacrifices, which I am not willing to make - at my age." Although the exact sacrifices that Gogean is referring to are unknown, Milo volunteered that the Romanian Gymnastics Federation had paid neither she nor Gogean their meager salary of 700.000 lei (about $50 US) for over four months. When asked what she would do, Gogean said that she had one year left at the University of Timisoara. 

In early 2000, while on a break between her winter and spring exams, Gogean spent some coaching a Scotland's Cumbernauld Gymnastics Club. Her three month contract ended in June, at which point she returned to Romania to continue her studies. Shortly thereafter, she provided colour commentary for Romanian Eurosport's gymnastics coverage of the 2000 Olympics. 

Gogean watches the 2001 ROM Int'l. Screen grab courtesy of Digital Gymnastics

In March 2001, Evenimentul Zilei reported that Gogean had earned brevet judging diploma but that she would be sidelined for awhile, suffering adverse effects from the demands placed on her body as an elite gymnast. " I have headaches and my back hurts. I need an operation so I won't have major problems in the future," Gogean explained. "As a gymnast I fell on my head and back a lot and my back was under a lot of strain, but every sport has it's own risks," she added. One of the country's top neurologists performed the spinal surgery necessary to repair her deviated vertebrae and beginnings of a herniated disc.

In July 2001, Gogean was named the honorary president of the newly formed Federation of Fitness. In this role, she helped organize a grand prix event held in Bucharest in November 2001. She is also now a voting member of the Romanian Olympic Committee. Most recently,  in February 2002, Evenimentul Zilei reported that Gogean will join four former teammates (Lavinia Milosovici, Simona Amanar, Maria Olaru, and Claudia Presecan) in opening a gym in Bega, outside of Timisoara. For more, see Nicole Citroen's Romanian Web site.

. This page was created on January 1, 2000 and last updated April 27, 2002.

 

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