Ponor retires — again

Romania's Catalina Ponor says she's retiring for good.

Triple Olympic gold medalist Catalina Ponor will not be heading to Beijing this summer, USA Today reported Wednesday.

Ponor, the last Romanian superstar coached by Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang, reportedly informed the Romanian federation of her decision to retire earlier this week.

“There are medical reasons and I don’t want to take any chances,” she said, according to Realitatea TV. “I am now focusing on my university studies and I want to spend the holidays with my family.”

Ponor retired after winning the beam at the 2006 European championships, in part because of her knee problems. She returned to competition this spring and helped Romania to a bronze medal at the world championships in September.

Ponor’s relationship with her coaches and federation has been somewhat contentious since the Athens Olympics, where some argue that she stole the show by winning gold on balance beam and floor exercise.

She also recognized as the team leader of the bulletproof Romanian squad that beat out the U.S. for the gold in the team competition.

Her bout of partying after the Games may have played a part in Belu and Bitang’s throwing in the towel as the Romanian National Team coaches. The duo wound up taking jobs in the Romanian government. Nicolae Fromite, who coached Simona Amanar during her long and successful career, succeeded them.

After disappointing Romanian finishes at the 2006 World Championships, Ponor resurrected her career, ostensibly planning to lead the team at the 2008 Olympics. She brought Bitang out of retirement as well to coach her.

But disappointments this year, including the Romanian team’s third place finish at the World Championships and her own finish out of the medals on balance beam in event finals may have galvinized her decision to retire anew.

The Romanian team looked better in 2007 than it has all quad, but its gymnasts were not where they were prior to 2004.

Ponor was known for her extremely difficult combinations on balance beam and expressive (for a Romanian) dance on floor exercise.

Catalina Ponor, 2006 European Championships Event Finals, Balance Beam:

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One Response to “Ponor retires — again”

  1. TCO Says:

    She was scared of Shawn. Cue Jaws music.

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