Camelia Mandricel (ROM)
Tribute courtesy of Ioana Jadic and Jennifer Isbister

Photo used with the expressed permission of Sato Takeo of OEFC

1989 Cottbus Cup: 4th AA, 2nd UB, 6th BB, 6th FX
1990 Romanian National Championships: 5th AA
1990 World Sports Fair
1990 Canadian Airlines Cup
1992 Romanian International: 1st UB
1992 European Championships: 18th AA

Results courtesy of Ioana Jadic

Born in Ploiesti, the perennial host city of the Romanian International, Camelia Mandricel lived just a few minutes away from the gym and her parents signed her up for a recreational class. She also started taking ballet lessons at the same time, because her parents were afraid gymnastics alone wouldn't be enough for her to burn off all the excess energy she had. Coached by Leana Sima and Laura Mandricel (her mother), Camelia went on to become one the best gymnasts from CSS Petrolul Ploiesti. 

She burst onto the gymnastics scene at the 1989 Cottbus Cup, a surprise entrant at such a prestigious meet. She did not disappoint, placing fourth overall and qualifying into three event finals (2nd UB, 6th BB, 6th FX). Camelia's 5th place finish at the 1990 Romanian National Championships reaffirmed her assigned to Cottbus, but came as a huge surprise given that she wasn't completely recovered from an ankle injury suffered earlier in the year.

Following her success at the 1990 Romanian Nationals, she competed in the 1990 Worlds Sports fair in Japan. Even though Camelia didn't win the competition, she won herself many fans, and a chance to compete at the 1990 Canadian Airlines Cup.

Unfortunately, Camelia's 1991 competitive season ended prematurely, after a serious foot injury sidelined her for the rest of the year. Because of her injury, Camelia couldn't practice her floor and vault routines. Instead, she worked on a new bars routine, which she hoped to unveil at next year's Romanian International.

The 1992 Romanian International was being held in Ploiesti and Camelia's mother was one of the judges selected for the meet, which raised a few questions about the fairness of the competition (i.e.: How can a mother objectively judge her own daughter?). Despite the controversy, Camelia was entered in the all-around competition, but she didn't perform up to her best on all four events (her landings on floor were all very low, marring an otherwise beautiful routine). Camelia's chance to prove herself came in the bars final, where she wowed the crowd with her wonderful routine, scoring a 9.925 and winning the gold medal. She also scored a perfect 10 for her beam routine, but her routine was performed as a demonstration, not as part of the competition. (The Romanian coaches seem to support entering their gymnast in a competition to see how they would fare internationally, even though technically that gymnast is not eligible to compete, either because of the age rule, or because she wasn't one of the top 2 romanian gymnasts to make the event finals. Andreea Cacovean also "competed" in the 92 Balkan games the same way and she actually won the all-around!).

Following her success, Camelia wanted to stay at Ploiesti and train with her mother, a decision which wasn't exactly popular with the National team coaches. They decided to take both Gabriela Agachi and Camelia Mandricel to the European Championships and decide who will compete when they get to Lausanne (they had already decided the other two team members would be Gina Gogean and Vanda Hadarean) . Once they got there, the coaches waited until the deadline -the day before the competition- to name Camelia as the third member of the team. By that point, both Camelia and Gabriela had been under so much pressure, it was pointless to let any of them compete. Camelia finished a disappointing 18th in the AA.

Camelia was very vocal in her criticism of the selection procedure used by the coaches, and in an interview on Romanian television, she said she repeatedly pleaded with the coaches to let Gabriela compete, instead of playing a waiting game, but they refused. Camelia never went back to Deva, partly because she didn't think she would be allowed to keep her spot on the National team. She went back to Ploiesti, where she kept busy between ballet performances, school, and coaching at her home club. Corina Ungureanu and Nicoleta Onel are just two of the gymnasts she coached during her stay at Ploiesti, and both of them have the beautiful form and body line that became/was Camelia's trademark.

Camelia Mandricel and Vanda Hadarean pose at the 2002 Gymnix International. Photo used with the expressed permission of Grace Chiu.

Camelia pursued her studies at the University in Ploiesti, eventually accepting a coaching position in the kingdom of Jordan in the middle east. There, she coaches the junior National team. Her gymnasts have had very good results, e.g., winning gold, silver, and bronzes at the 1999 International meet in Tunisia. Camelia recently traveled to Montreal to coach her gymnast Yasmin Kheir (JOR) to a 6th place all around standing at the 2002 Gymnix International.

Today Camelia is the women's head coach in Qatar.

Note: You might see Camelia last name spelled as Mindricel in some older magazines/newspapers. Both spellings are correct, based on when the article was published. the 'i' or 'a' has a little "^" on top of it, so they're both pronounced like "Uh" (like the second 'a' in Amanar). Romanian grammar changed that rule in 93, and now you have to use the version with an 'a' in it, but this should explain why you'll see her name spelled two different ways.

. This page was created on September 9, 1999 and last updated on March 20, 2002.


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