Daniela Maranduca (ROM)
Tribute courtesy of Ioana Jadic

1992 Romanian Nationals
1993 Romanian International: 3rd AA, 6th UB
1994 Romanian Nationals: 1st T, 2nd V, 2nd FX
1994 Birmingham Classic: 4th AA, 1st V
1994 Trophee Massilia
1994 World Championships: 1st T

A photo of Maranduca is available at the sunet website.

In the Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor, Nicolae Forminte described her as, "the most determined and dedicated gymnast I have ever coached." Surprisingly, that description does not refer to his best known gymnast, Simona Amanar, but rather to Daniela Maranduca.

Born in Constanta in July 1976, Daniela was the first gymnast from her club of Farul ('Farul' translates to 'lighthouse') Constanta to make the Romanian national team. Daniela started gymnastics when she was 6 years old, after seeing a competition on television. Success didn't come easy for her, and she was often left behind when her teammates went to major competitions. Instead of giving up, she kept training, and in 1991 her efforts paid off - she was selected to the national team.

Daniela wasn't scheduled to compete at the 1992 Romanian Nationals, but since the competition was being held in her home town of Constanta, Octavian Belu (head coach of the national team) eventually agreed to let her compete. Dani surprised everyone by qualifying to the all around finals and hitting her bars routine (complete with 3 release moves), scoring the only perfect 10 awarded in the all around. She finished in the top ten, establishing herself as a contender for future competitions.

In 1993, Daniela finished third in the all around at the Romanian International (behind Lavinia Milosovici and Lyudmila Stovbchataya). She was the clear favorite heading into the uneven bars final, but after a perfect routine, she sat down her dismount and ended up in sixth place. Despite her obvious disappointment, Daniela was ready to focus on the rest of the season. Unfortunately, soon thereafter she suffered a broken ankle and severely sprained wrist during practice. She was told she could never return to competitive gymnastics, but after a grueling rehab she went back to Constanta and started training with their junior team. All of the young gymnast said they looked up to Daniela, and having her in the gym was a great inspiration for them. One of those youngsters later told Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor, that Dani's determination and eventual return to the National team was, "the best lesson [I] had ever learned." The lessons must have worked, because that youngster - Simona Amanar - went on to become one of the most successful Romanian gymnasts of all times.

1994 was Daniela's best year. She led her club, Farul Constanta, to the national title in the team portion of the Romanian Nationals. Individually, she won two silver medals (vault and floor exercise). She might also have medalled on the uneven bars, her favourite event, but because of her lingering wrist injury she had to take out some of her best skills.

One month later, Daniela travelled to Dortmund, Germany for the World Team Championships. Coach Octavian Belu told Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor that Daniella "was the best lead-off any team had, and her performances helped the Romanian team win the gold medal." Her best scores came on vault (9.8) and floor, where her elegant and mature choreography helped her earn a 9.837. When the team returned home, a very happy Daniela announced, on Romanian National Television (TVR), that "Winning a gold medal with your team is the best feeling in world. I felt honored to be on the podium with my team mates and the great team spirit we had lifted all of our performances to another level." (Daniela modestly forgot to mention she was voted "the most beautiful" gymnast by the reporters who covered the World Championships)!

Daniela, already 18 by the end of 1994, decide to retire after Dortmund and focus on her studies. She went back to Constanta, where she majored in Environmental studies at the local university. She found the time to coach at Farul, grooming current national team members Elena Oprea, Olimpia Popa, and Aurelia Ciurea. Daniela's career may have been cut short by untimely injuries, but she will always be remembered for her amazingly elegant routines...and for being, as Amanar described Dani to Romanian Newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor, the "kindest and most supportive teammate anyone can ever have."

Update (November 15, 1999). Daniela now performs with Aeros, an Italian performance art troupe. Other "big" Romanian names at Aeros include Lacramioara Filip (1989 World team member), Izabela Lacatus (second alternate to the 1992 Olympic team), and Ancuta Elena Goia. A former rhythmic gymnast, Ancuta 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 in the mid 1990s, used to perform with Aeros.

Update (June 4, 2000). Daniela recently competed for Romania at the 2000 World Championships in Sports Aerobics. She and her teammates (Cristina Marin and Mirela Rusu) placed 11th in the team trio event, just missing the chance to advance to the final round. 

All three (Maranduca, Marin, and Rusu) continue to perform with Aeros as well.

Update (June 30, 2002). Daniela is scheduled to marry fellow CS Farul National aerobics team member Remus Nicolai in August! Nicolai competes with Daniela's former WAG teammate, Isabella Lacatus, in the aerobics mixed pairs event.

Update (August 30, 2002). Daniela and Remus married August 24, 2002!

Many thanks to Babs for alerting me to the Aeros info, and to Robin Catalano and Ioana Jadic for providing me with additional information about Goia.

. This page was created on August 15th, 1999 and last updated on June 30, 2002.


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