July began with the shocking news that Olivia Cimpian was leaving Deva to move to Hungary to train and represent the country.
But first of all, who is Olivia Cimpian? Olivia is one of Romania’s new senior; she was born on January 1st, 2001; making her hours too young to have been able to contend for an Olympic spot last year. However the sad truth is that even if she had been born on December 31st 2000 nothing would have really changed in her career as sadly there was no Olympic Team to contend to.
Last year Olivia was part of the Junior European Romanian team that won bronze six weeks after their senior counterpart had failed to qualify a full team at the Test Event. During the team competition, that also served as qualification, Olivia competed all four apparatus to finish 10Th AA, however she was the third Romanian and did not advance to the final. She did qualify to the vault final where she finished 8th and despite qualifying to the floor final in 3rd place she withdrew.
Taking into account her qualifying scores from the 2016 Junior Europeans: Vault (14.566), Bars (12.900), Beam (12.400) and Floor (13.633) and considering she could have made senior teams at the Test Event and Europeans last year, would she have been able to make a difference?
Replacing the lowest scores counted towards the team total at the Test Event with her Junior European scores on Vault, Bars and Floor Romania’s team score would have risen from 216.569 to 219.203 placing them 5th overall. They would have still not qualified a full team to Rio but the sentiment would have been completely different, barely missing out. At Europeans something similar would have happened the team total would have risen from 164.596 to 165.963 which would have placed them 4th again the team would have barely missed out.
While perhaps Olivia’s inclusion in the senior teams would not have made a significant difference towards what Romania needed last year at least they would have been able to keep their morale a little bit higher.
So 2017 arrived and Olivia finally turned senior and her first competition was the Doha World Cup where she did not advance to any finals after finishing 10th on bars, 14th on beam and 12th on floor. Despite this bad day internal testing granted her the enormous honour of representing Romania at home-Europeans in Cluj-Napoca. Romania’s history, even with their downfall, and the importance of Europeans made imperative she had a good performance even if she did not have a medal chance at any event.
Sadly Europeans were not Olivia’s competition she barely qualified to the all-around and in the actual final she did not improve her result, she was 23rd out of 24 gymnasts competing. Olivia’s downfall at the competition was uneven bars, the apparatus largely attributed as the reason why the Romanian program crashed. Olivia placed last on the apparatus among all the competitors. If everything continues as hinted, home-Europeans in Cluj-Napoca will be Olivia’s last competition representing Romania.
When gymnasts change citizenships in order to represent other countries, in the vast majority of the cases they do it because they do not have the level to make major international teams in their home-country because their teammates have more difficult and consistent routines. So gymnasts seek for a country where the level is not as high so they can get major international assignments somewhat easily. What makes Olivia’s decision to leave so shocking is that this is not her case.
She’s leaving to neighbouring Hungary not because she has a higher level, Hungary’s queen Zsofia Kovacs was in contention for the European all-around title after leading for three rotations, low difficulty on Floor kept her second. But Hungary rose to glory in Cluj-Napoca with Kovac’s silver in the all-around and Boglarka Devai’s bronze on vault.
So why is she leaving? Because she feels Hungary will help develop her potential more efficiently than the Romanian system can. And that statement is something no-one would have ever believed just barely four years ago, when despite their issues Romania was still strong and Hungary just had an average level program in gymnastics.
The transition won’t be easy particularly because the Romanian Federation has to give its permission and they won’t make it easy for her. Her departure is a big blow to their ego and their struggling program.
It is unknown when we will see Olivia representing Hungary for the first time because nationality and Federations issues aside she still has to adapt to a new training environment, get her skills to a consistent level and then fight for a spot on a major team like every other gymnast in the Hungarian National Team.
However when we do see her we will be watching closely. Has she regained her consistency? Can she do a consistent high-level uneven bars routine? Can she outscore her former Romanian teammates? Basically, was her move to Hungary the right decision?