Posts Tagged ‘Bela Karolyi’

The weeks in review

November 25, 2008

There should be a blog that keeps tabs on all the gymnastics blogs.

Tidbits of the week: Triple Full reports that 2006 World Champion Vanessa Ferrari is having a sort of identity crisis. Ongoing injuries have hindered her training, and she’s gained some weight. Nothing precipitates an identity crisis in gymnastics like the expansion of a couple inches of waistline. It seems doubtful that the feisty 2006 World Champion will be able to make a tremendously successful return to elite international competition.

Rick at Gymnastics Coaching reports that Georgia is once again on top of the yearly NCAA coaches poll, followed by perennial runner-up Utah. And that Bela Karolyi called accusers Trudi Kollar and fellow defector Geza Pozar “trash” for their accusations of Bela and Martha Karolyi’s abuse. Tactful. Very tactful.

Before becoming U.S. Team Coordinator, Martha Karolyi was the shadow behind Bela, who obviously prefers the spotlight. Rick calls for her to address the abuse allegations, as well. I kind of doubt she will. Or that USA Gymnastics will make her.

A flurry of competitions, including the Milan Grand Prix, Toyota Cup, Massila Cup, Asian Championships and DBT Cup have taken place in recent days. The rule of thumb has generally been that if you dominated during the Olympics, you dominated these competitions too. Stars include Cheng Fei, Jiang Yuyuan, He Kexin, Sandra Izbasa, Koko Tsurumi, Lauren Mitchell, Fabian Hambuchen, Maxim Deviatovskiy.

“Competing” against a weak field, U.S. gymnasts Samantha Shapiro, Corrie Lothrop and Olivia Courtney steamrolled everyone else at the Pan American Union Championships. Lothrop won vault, Shapiro bars and beam, and Courtney floor.

Revisiting Emilia Eberle’s gymnastics

November 21, 2008

She’s known for that awful floor routine — and now, for her accusations that Bela and Martha Karolyi physically abused her and others while she trained on the Romanian national team. What she isn’t so known for is her very clean work on beam and bars.

I wonder why not. Eberle’s work from the 1979 Chunichi Cup and 1980 Olympic Games is quite impressive. On beam she reminds me of a combination of Olga and Nadia, and her swing on bars and some of the neat moves is great. Her double pike off beam had to be one of the first performed. If she weren’t of the same era as Nadia, Nellie Kim and Natalia Shaposhnikova, perhaps she would have been better remembered.

Emilia Eberle, 1979 Chunichi Cup, Uneven Bars:

Emilia Eberle, 1979 Chunichi Cup, Beam:

The judges thought she was pretty good, too. Eberle won silver on bars at the 1980 Olympics.

By the 1980 Olympics, Eberle had mercifully been given a new floor routine. If the music sounds familiar, it’s because Mary Lou Retton used it in 1984.

Emilia Eberle, 1980 Olympics Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

Bela Karolyi announces Romanian Senate run

November 20, 2008
Bela Karolyi has announced plans to run for the Romanian Senate.

Bela Karolyi has announced plans to run for the Romanian Senate.

Yesterday a Sacramento news affiliate published an article quoting former Karolyi pupil Emilia Eberle (now Trudi Kollar) saying she was abused at the hands of Bela and Martha Karolyi as a member of the Romanian national team during the 1970s and early ’80s.

Her story was confirmed by choreographer Geza Pozar, a close friend of the Karolyis who defected with them in 1981.

There’s hardly time for people to begin calling for the Karolyis to come clean, acknowledge Kollar’s statements (Bela has refused to comment, and Martha’s in Argentina at the Pan Pacific Games, according to reader Nik) before The Houston Chronicle reports that Bela has decided to run for the Romanian Senate.

Does this mean he’ll relocate back to Romania? Nope.

Karolyi, 66, said he will be on the ballot in Romania’s Nov. 30 election to become a member of national Senate as a representative of Romanian citizens living in the Americas, Australia and Africa.

Karolyi, who has Romanian and U.S. citizenship, said he was approached to enter the race by the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, or DAHR. The group’s Web site describes the DAHR, a member of Romania’s current governing coalition, as a political alliance organized to represent the interests of ethnic Hungarians living in Romania.

“I got a call about a month ago from the government saying, ‘Bela, we salute you. We have an offer,’” Karolyi said. “I said, ‘What is the offer? Does it involve hunting?’ They said, ‘It is much more serious than that. We would like you to run for a position in the Romanian Senate.’”

Karolyi said he initially turned down the offer but accepted after he was encouraged to do so by DAHR members in Romania and by supporters living in the United States.

He’ll be a shoo-in. Nadia Comaneci was reportedly approached about running for Romanian Parliament in 2007 last summer but apparently has not followed up.

Related: Eberle says Karolyi beat her; Pozar confirms
USAG: No complaints about the Karolyis
Nadia the politician?

Eberle says Karolyi beat her; Pozar confirms

November 19, 2008

Emilia Eberle as a young competitor. Eberles given name is Gertrud, which reflects her Hungarian roots. The Romanian Federation decided she would compete under her middle name, Emilia.

Emilia Eberle as a young competitor. Eberle's given name is Gertrud, which reflects her Hungarian roots. The Romanian Federation decided she would compete under her middle name, Emilia.

Oh, dear.

In an interview with a local news affiliate, 1970s Romanian national team member Emilia Eberle says that Bela and Martha Karolyi physically abused their gymnasts, describing hitting, cutting, scratching and an overall feeling of terror that permeated the Deva gym.

“In one word, I can say it was brutal,” she said.

Kollar said mistakes in training or competition brought physical pain — frequent beatings from Bela Karolyi.

“Nobody’s perfect, so obviously we did mistakes. And we, you know, just got smacked everywhere from Bela — on all our body parts. You know, he has huge hands and it hurts,” Kollar said. “I had blood coming out of my body. I had my ears — my skin ripped behind my ears. I had pus behind my ears, but, you know, nobody seemed to care.”

While awful, this is not exactly new information. Over the years, several Karolyi gymnasts have periodically accused the exuberant Romanian of abuse. What is new, however, is the source who confirms it: Geza Pozar, the choreographer who defected with the Karolyis in 1981 and continued to work with them. Eberle, who changed her name to Trudi Kollar, has worked in Pozar’s gym in Sacramento for the past 15 years, according to the article.

Pozar said Kollar’s story is absolutely true.

“I saw all the activities that went on. Of course I saw the beating and the abuse, you know, as Trudi told you,” Pozar said.

Pozar said Bela Karolyi was large and powerful, and that Kollar was a frequent target.

“Trudi was the most abused, I mean physically. And when he hit her on the back, you can see that big hand, you know, landing on her back. That is something you would never forget,” Pozar said.

Kollar, who is known primarily for having one of the ugliest floor routines ever choreographed (likely by Pozar, who was team choreographer; horrendous as it was, it tied for third with American Kathy Johnson’s stunning classical routine at the 1978 World Championships in Strasbourg, France) refused to discuss her training days in an earlier interview this summer.

Emilia Eberle, 1977 U.S. vs. Romania, Floor Exercise:

What bothers me about this story is that abuse like Eberle describes was probably not limited to Romanian gymnastics. Look at the ever-successful Soviets of the 80s, or the Chinese of today. How many of them are or were subjected to the same treatment?

Speaking of messed up, stuff is happening in Brazil that’s getting much-needed attention on Triple Full and at Gymnastics Coaching. Banned drugs, no less. Maybe that explains why Jade Barbosa looked so out of it in Beijing.

Martha: 2012 and possibly beyond

November 14, 2008

Martha Karolyi is planning to lead the U.S. women’s gymnastics team at least through 2012, Bela Karolyi said this week in an interview with ESPN.

Karolyi said Martha’s battery is fully charged, and she’s ready to lead the team at least through the 2012 Olympics. She’s 66. “Martha is amazing,” Karolyi said. “I don’t know where in the world she gets that energy and drive. She really amazes me. She’s very, very much into it, very much dedicated.” Penny said the Karolyis are in USA Gymnastics’ long-term plan, and he expects Martha to run the women’s program at least through 2012. “The program is working, and people are happy about it,” he said. “People want to keep it going.”

Not everybody feels this way. What do you think?

Rate Bela’s performance on NBC

August 21, 2008

Is he a 10 as a broadcaster?

Bela Karolyi: Is he a 10 as a broadcaster?

My feelings at seeing Bela Karolyi beside Bob Costas on NBC were mixed — he has wonderful charisma and energy that makes a person get excited about gymnastics, but I disagreed with some of his statements.

Should he become a regular on NBC, or was he a bit too over the top?

Also, with regards to this blog’s recent dig at the Karolyis comparing them to Bill and Hillary Clinton, the statements come from a blogger who has huge respect for both couples (and one who leans to the left politically, though that’s neither here nor there.)

My point was simply that these are two controversial couples who have achieved great things for the country and gymnastics respectively, but who both tend to whine a bit when things don’t go their way.

And yes, gymnastics fans may be a little sick of Barta, the same way politicos may have thought Billary pushed things a little too far when campaigning this spring. But that doesn’t detract from their accomplishments, nor the fact that both genuinely seem to be trying to do the right things for their constituencies.

Up next: A few thoughts regarding event finals.

Karolyi blame game

August 14, 2008

Alicia Sacramone is consoled by U.S. National Team Coordinator Martha Karolyi after a disappointing performance during the women's team final in Beijing Tuesday night.

Alicia Sacramone is consoled by U.S. National Team Coordinator Martha Karolyi after a disappointing performance during the women's team final in Beijing Tuesday night.

Again, we reiterate: Even if Alicia Sacramone had been perfect on balance beam and floor exercise in team finals, even if Chellsie Memmel could have the 0.2 back for her jam through to her dismount on bars, even if all the out of boundses hadn’t happened on floor, China still would have defeated the U.S. by slightly more than half a point.

There is the school of thought that says that if Sacramone hadn’t fallen on beam and the U.S. had trailed China by tenths, not points, going into the fourth rotation, the Chinese might have crumbled under the pressure, as many expected before the competition.

That’s a big maybe. So it seems a bit unfair of National Team Coordinator Martha Karolyi to blame Sacramone’s problems on Chinese officials after the understandably disappointing competition.

BEIJING (AFP) – USA Gymnastics played down suggestions from a team official Wednesday that stadium staff here distracted one of their athletes so much she went on to make mistakes that destroyed their hopes of an Olympic gold medal.

As the gymnast at the centre of the controversy, Alicia Sacramone, admitted nerves got the better of her in the women’s team final against China, USA Gymnastics distanced itself the from remarks made by Martha Karolyi, the team co-ordinator.

Karolyi said immediately after the US loss to China that officials at Beijing’s National Indoor Stadium disrupted Sacramone’s beam routine by delaying her performance for an extended period, breaking her concentration.

“First they called her name up, then they did not even put her name up even though the Chinese had finished … (it was) totally unusual holding,” she said.”She was mentally prepared and then she had a mental break, then after not doing the job, the beam, on the floor exercise her concentration was bothered.”

Long waits happen so often they seem somewhat customary. Sacramone shouldn’t blame herself for the team “loss.” Martha Karolyi shouldn’t either.

Bela Karolyi took a different tack, accusing the Chinese of cheating by putting underage athletes on their team.

Some people may be getting a little sick of this power couple and their excuses, their politics, regardless of the good they’ve done the country. Do they remind you of anyone else?

Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Bill and Hillary Clinton.

(via Gymnastics Coaching)

Women’s team final: More China gold

August 13, 2008
Alicia Sacramone fell on balance beam and floor exercise, taking away any chance of the U.S. women's winning team gold.

Alicia Sacramone fell on balance beam and floor exercise, taking away any chance of the U.S. women's winning team gold.

Oh, how sad. What a way to win a silver medal. Like the Japanese men last night, only worse.

Silver is the most bittersweet medal for people used to being the best, or expecting to be the best, and the American women for the past quad have tended to be both.

Given his less than stellar routines in Beijing, particularly his 12.775 pommel horse performance in team finals, some may question whether Kevin Tan should have had a place on the bronze medal-winning U.S. men’s team. (The answer is yes he should have, because his rings score was still so high it offset wherever else he was lackluster, and he should not have been put up on pommels at all in team finals.) But there was never, ever any question that Alicia Sacramone had what it took. She was a talent whose start value on vault couldn’t be replaced, a former World champion on floor and a gymnast whose balance beam routine had stood the test of the U.S. Championships and Olympic Trials.

Sacramone didn’t lose the gold for the U.S. Her performance was bad — particularly on floor exercise, where she opened up a little too early on her Arabian double front while trying to stick the landing. The emotional look on her face throughout the rest of the routine didn’t help matters either.

But even if Sacramone hadn’t fallen on beam and floor and nobody had stepped out of bounds, even if Chellsie Memmel’s jam through to her double front had been credited on uneven bars, China still would have won by more than half a point. The U.S. didn’t hand the gold to anyone. It was China’s to lose all along.

Nevertheless, this whole competition probably hurt the highly-touted U.S. team. A lot. Bela Karolyi’s comments on NBC, blatantly accusing the Chinese of age falsification, may roil some bad feelings as well. Whether or not the Chinese really were all 16, we’ll never know, unless some team members make like Yang Yun and say on TV they were 14. The FIG and the International Olympic Committee have expressed no interest in exploring the issue.

I don’t feel like harping on this competition too much, except to say also that the Romanian women should be as thrilled with their bronze as the U.S. men were. Hopefully they will adapt better to the new code next quad. For Russia, another disappointment, and a shame for a country that produces such wonderful gymnastics.

On to the all-around final, which should be a great battle between Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson. Given the way both have performed in this competition, it’s anybody’s guess who’ll take gold, although Liukin seems to have a better shot than many would have expected even a few months ago.

Those controversial Moceanu statements

July 24, 2008

A very young Dominique Moceanu.

Paul Hamm isn’t the only one saying controversial stuff as The Olympic Games approach.

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, 1996 Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu called for Bela and Martha Karolyi to be shown off the U.S. Team selection process.

Former U.S. Olympian Dominique Moceanu, who at 14 was part of the 1996 gold-medal team, said Tuesday night that USA Gymnastics team coordinator Martha Karolyi once grabbed her by the neck and slammed her face into a phone, and that former coach Bela Karolyi twice berated her about her weight in front of national teammates.

Moceanu, in a telephone interview with The Times, expanded on comments she made on an “HBO Real Sports” report that first aired Tuesday night in which she called for the Karolyis to be removed from their positions with the national team.


Sacramone at six

May 29, 2008

Alicia Sacramone has come a long way since being a level six, as she appears here in videos posted by

LBLG’s take:

It’s so weird to watch her, she actually was not the best level 6, you probably wouldn’t expect an elite gymnast to come out of this girl in the video.

Dunno about that — she obviously had a lot of talent, although in his book Feel No Fear, Bela Karolyi wrote that you can’t tell at age six (which is about what Sacramone looks here) who is going to develop into a great gymnast and who isn’t.

Even the best gymnasts have their simple skill struggles. I once knew a level 10 who couldn’t do a back walkover. Well, she really could, but she didn’t do it well. I asked her how she got through level 6, which at that time required a back walkover on beam. “Oh, I was a terrible level six,” she said.

(via Live.Breath.Love.Gymnastics)