Izabela Lacatus (ROM)
Tribute courtesy of Ioana Jadic

Photo by Beth Squires

1990 Avignon Junior International: 5th AA
1990 American Cup: 9th AA (prelims)
1990 Moscow News: 8th FX
1990 Chunichi Cup: 4th AA
1991 Junior Euros: 4th AA (tie), 7th V, 4th UB (tie)
1991 Cottbus Cup: 2nd AA
1991 ITA vs ROM: 1st T, 8th AA
1991 USA vs ROM: 1st T, 6th AA
1991 Catania Cup: 3rd AA

Results compiled from information found at Gymn Forum

Izabela Daniela Lacatus was considered one of the most promising juniors at the Deva Training Center in the early 90's. Born in Bucharest on October 2nd, 1976, she started gymnastics at Triumf, but later moved to Deva, at her parents' (somewhat surprising) suggestion. Izabela progressed so rapidly, that by 1989, she moved up to the senior team, and started training alongside her role-model, Daniela Silivas. She started competing internationally at the age of 12. She competed at the 1989 Romanian International, and despite some shaky performances, she impressed the Romanian Federation enough to earn a trip to the American Cup.

In early 1990, following the Romanian revolution, the gym at Deva was temporarily closed down and most of the gymnasts returned to their home clubs. Izabela and the other gymnasts who were still juniors according to the FIG age rules went to Onesti and started training at the Olympic Center. Despite the minimal training, Izabela and the other juniors competed in numerous Internationals that same year. The Romanian Federation explained their decision by saying it was very hard to keep track of all the senior gymnasts, who were no longer in a centralized training environment. In retrospect, it seems much more likely that everything was a publicity stunt. Having head coach Octavian Belu compete around the world with prepubescent gymnasts attracted everyone's sympathy for the "plight of Romanian gymnastics," as Belu described the situation. Izabela, Gina Gogean, and Vanda Hadarean were just some of the juniors who competed that year in meets normally reserved for senior gymnasts, like the Chunichi Cup, or the Goodwill Games. Izabela made the most of her chance, finishing 4th all-around at the 1990 Chunichi Cup, and 5th at the International Junior Competition in Avignon.

By the end of 1990, the National team was reinstated, and the gymnasts started training at Deva once again. Izabela Lacatus missed the 1991 Romanian International, due to an injury, but she was recovered enough to compete at the Junior European Championships. Izabela turned in one of her best performances, finishing 4th in AA competition. She scored a 9.837 on vault, 9.8 on bars, 9.762 on beam, and a 9.712 on floor. According to Gazeta Sporturilor's coverage, "a step out of bounds on her last tumbling run cost her the bronze medal." Incidentally, back in '91, there was no qualifying competition for the AA, and the gymnasts were divided into two separate groups, with the favorites competing in the second group. Izabela competed in the first group, when the judges tend to score gymnasts more conservatively, which makes her results even more amazing.

Following her successful outing in Athens, Iza competed at the Cottbus Cup later that year, finishing second in the all-around, behind Yelena Piskun. The busy competition schedule continued in 1992, with the Romanian International, where Izabela won the silver medal on bars, behind home-town favorite, Camelia Mandricel. Her consistency and hard work earned her a trip to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, as the second alternate for the Romanian team (first alternate was Eugenia Popa).

After the Olympics, Izabela competed at several invitationals, until an ankle injury sidelined for the rest of the year. Sadly, she never made a full recovery, and she retired in 1994. That same year, she started aerobic gymnastics, following her friend and former teammate, Mirela Pasca. The aerobics teams performed during the Gala organized in honor of Nadia Comaneci's visit to Romania. Izabela was one of the gymnasts who participated, and she looked great. She was also doing something that seemed almost unthinkable during her career as an artistic gymnast --smiling and playing to the crowd : ).

Izabela is currently studying at the Sports University in Bucharest, and she hopes to become a coach after she graduates. She is also taking ice-skating lessons in her free time, and she coaches the lower level gymnasts at Triumf Bucharest, her former club. She recently finished second at the European Aerobic Championships, and she also won the silver medal at the World Championships. Izabela told Romanian sports newspaper ProSport she has every intention to keep competing "until she wins a gold medal." Knowing her talent and work-ethic, she'll probably win more than just one.

Update (June 4, 2000). Izabela placed second in the mixed pairs event (with partner Remus Nicolai) at the recent 2000 World Championships in Sports Aerobics. She is also leading in the women's division after the qualification round.

Update (November 7, 2000). In addition to training for upcoming sports aerobics competitions, Izabela is currently touring with Aeros, an Italian performance art troupe. Fifteen former Romanians are reportedly employed by Aeros. Other "big" Romanian names with Aeros include Lacramioara Filip (1989 World team member), Daniela Maranduca (1994 World Team member), and Ancuta Elena Goia. Ancuta, a former rhythmic gymnast, consistently placed in the top in international competitions in the 1980s. Following her retirement, she worked as a choreographer in Steaua before joining Aeros. Cristian Leric, a prominent Romanian male gymnast from the mid 1990s, used to perform with Aeros.

Update (November 29, 2000). Izabela is the newly crowned World Cup champion in sports aerobics!

Lacatus at the 2005 Romanian Sports Gala

Update (June 18, 2001). Izabela competed in the 2001 World Cup for Aerobics in Italy this weekend, winning the individual gold, and and pairs event with Remus Nicolai.

Update (February 2005). Izabela was one of the world champions in non-Olympic sports honoured at the Sports Gala in Bucharest recently.

. This page was created on January 1, 2000 and last updated on February 18, 2005.


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