Gabriela Potorac (ROM)

For a listing of Potorac's competitive results, please visit Gymn Forum's Potorac biography.

Photo by Tom Theobald.
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Gabriela Potorac was born on February 6, 1973 in Bacau, Romania. She was plucked from her kindergarten class to begin gymnastics classes, training at CS Bacau. While still in elementary school, she was sent to Deva.

1986 was a big year for Potorac, competing at the Junior Europeans (6th AA, 3rd UB, 4th V, 4th FX), Moscow News (2nd FX, 3rd V), and inaugural Goodwill Games. Romania chose to send their brightest juniors to Moscow for the Goodwill Games, and Potorac led the team to fourth place. Potorac also placed fourth all around, and qualified to all event finals with the exception of beam (4th V, 5th UB, 7th FX).

Potorac gained valuable experience at various invitationals that year, and come 1987 she medalled in all of her meets. Her biggest success that year came in Cottbus, Germany, where she placed 1st AA at the Cottbus Cup. She attempted to retain this title the following year, but just fell short (2nd AA).

With teammate Ekaterina Szabo retiring from competition after the 1987 Worlds, Potorac's chances of competing in Seoul at the 1988 Olympics increased. She was assigned to various international meets that year, the Romanian Gymnastics Federation undoubtedly wanting to give judges an opportunity to recognize her gymnastics. She travelled to the USA for the American Cup (5th AA) and International Mixed Pairs (3rd T), Spain for the Blume Memorial (2nd AA), Switzerland for the Arthur Gander Memorial (1st AA) and Swiss Cup (1st AA), etc...

Still age eligible to compete as a junior in 1988, Potorac was assigned to compete in Avignon, France at the 1988 Junior European Championships. She finished second all around, and medalled on bars (2nd), beam (1st), and floor (3rd V). Her performances earned her a spot on Romania's Olympic team.

Potorac enjoyed strong performances in Seoul. While the Romanian team was devastated not to place first as a team, as they had in Rotterdam at the 87 World Championships, Potorac was the second strongest Romanian competitor after the two day's of competition (team compulsories and team optionals), earning herself a spot in the all around competition. She was strong again in the all around, placing a surprising fourth. Potorac capped off the Games with two medals in the event finals, a silver on vault (oddly, her weakest event in the AA!) and a bronze on medal (tied with Phoebe Mills of the USA).

Potorac was one of the favourites going into the 1989 Europeans. An all-around medal would allude her, however she did win beam. Later that year, a very different Potorac emerged in Stuttgart at the World Championships. She and her teammates had had disrupted training at best, the country besieged by a Revolution. A very out-of-shape Potorac placed 16th AA, rallying a bit in the event finals however (5th UB, 3rd BB, 6th V). Potorac's last competition came in 1990, at the Dutch Open. She placed 18th AA.

Potorac had enjoyed a tremendously successful junior career, peaking at just the right time (at an Olympic Games). While she enjoyed some success in the post-Olympic year, events beyond her control limited her during these years. Still, she has to be pleased with her accomplishments.

After retiring, Potorac began studies at the Sports University in Bucharest and coached at Tirumf Bucharest. In 1993 she moved to Japan to coach, eventually marrying a Japanese fellow. The two have since divorced.

Potorac still lives in Japan, where she continues to work as a coach. At the 2000 Chunichi Cup she served as a Japanese-Romanian translator (click Chunichi link for a recent photo of Potorac!).

. This page was created September 23, 2001.

 

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