Cătălina Ponor, for Romania's Gymnastics Honor

Cătălina Ponorlina Ponor, Romania's flag bearer at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, is nicknamed Cătă. She was born on August 20, 1987 in Constanta, Romania, so she will most likely celebrate her 29th birthday in Rio!

At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, she won 3 gold medals: team gold, gold on beam and gold on floor exercise. After taking a break from gymnastics, she competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games to win silver on floor exercise and a bronze with the Romanian team. She has also numerous medals at World Championships and European Championships including the 2004 gold on beam at the World Cup Final in Birmingham, and the gold medals on beam at the European championships in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2012.

For those of you who may not know: beam is the strongest apparatus for Romanian women in artistic gymnast where they have, for almost half a century know shown completely dazzling and unsurpassed mastery.

This year, she is the only gymnast who will represent Romania at the Olympic Games.

The remarkable thing about Cătălina is that she goes to competitions not simply to participate, but to win. She is the best we can see in gymnastics, not only among the legendary Romanians, but in the world. She truly is unstoppable, as this fan montage prepared by a fan, which has reduced me to a puddle of tears, calls her:


Tsvetelina Stoyanova Reported Better

According to the Bulgarian papers, Tsveti, has left the intensive care unit and will stay at the neurosurgery department of the hospital where she will focus on recovery and rehab.

The other members of the Bulgarian group are in Rio and think of her with great love and care. The hardest part, for both Tsveti and the team, appears to be over. 

Fans have expressed high hopes that now the team will actually be able to focus on is routines and enjoy living the Olympic dream, for which they worked so hard. As for Tsveti, the best of her life is yet to come, and her success and joy will surely go well beyond sports, but the sense of team effort and belonging as well as the strong spirit gymnastics builds will remain to help her keep moving forward in life.


Salome in Full Attack Position for an Olympic Medal

Does Salome Pazhava have a chance to win a medal in Rio? I wish she did!

Her ball routine is one of the most innovative this season, but she has performed all four routines cleanly in most, if not all, recents competition. She has already shown off her style with hoop and clubs as well. If she has a "weak spot," I would say it is ribbon technique, but Salome has definitely earned her spot among the best gymnasts in the world. 

Currently, all of her routines have enough difficulty and expression for her to reach high and try to measure up to Son from Korea, Staniouta from Belarus and Rizatdinova from the Ukraine. I would say she looks much stronger and definitely more exciting to watch than Moustafaeva from France and Rivkin from Israel. She is also in far better shape than the second representative of Belarus, Halkina.

I love her focus, her stamina, her intensity, her unapologetically athletic and powerful style.  Her leotards and music were very well chosen to tell no ordinary fairy tale of a graceful princess, but a story of warrior and dragons. That,  a plot of flying mythical creatures and valiant heroes, is just what I picture when I watch her perform.