Romania's all stars come to Ipswich

ROMANIA'S all-star women's gymnastics team will be hoping that Ipswich's Pipers Vale Gymnastics Centre can once again act as a lucky Olympic charm today and tomorrow.

Stuart Watson

ROMANIA'S all-star women's gymnastics team will be hoping that Ipswich's Pipers Vale Gymnastics Centre can once again act as a lucky Olympic charm today and tomorrow.

The three-times Olympic champions, who have medalled at every Games since Melbourne 1956, last came to Ipswich in 2004 as part of their build up the Games.

That year they ended up claiming the gold medal in Athens and, four years down the line, they are returning to once again take on their Great Britain counterparts in a friendly fixture.


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And it is shaping up to be a mouth-watering fixture, with both squad's competitors aiming to seal their place on the Olympic squad ahead of Beijing.

While Britain's number one gymnast Beth Tweddle will not risk aggravating an ankle injury, Britain's promising squad will be otherwise be at full-strength.

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Meanwhile, Romania - who are currently ranked No.2 in the world, will have a scintillating line-up headed by world and European medallist Steliana Nistor.

Pipers Vale head coach Andy Wood said: “This is going to be a great opportunity for Great Britain's women to see just how far off that top tier they are.

“There is a lot to do between now and the Olympics, but I think they will have a very good chance of making the final eight in Beijing.

“We have got a really good girl on bars, some fantastic vaulters and two or three really good floor workers.”

Great Britain has long enjoyed a harmonious and successful relationship with the Romanian gymnastics community.

In recent years Great Britain and Romania have battled at events in Newcastle as well as Ipswich, while the two squads recently took each other on in Romania, the hosts nation coming out on top.

The Romanians have qualified a full team for Beijing thanks to their bronze place finish at last year's Stuttgart World Championships, while the British team also have a full line up of gymnasts heading to Beijing after they finished seventh in Stuttgart's team competition.

Romanian Women's Gymnastics Team Factfile

n Romania first achieved wide-scale success at the 1976 Olympics with the tremendous

success of Nadia Comaneci.

n They were the only team ever to defeat the Soviets in head-to-head competition at the World Championships with their victories in the 1979 and 1987.

n They are three times Olympic champions (Los Angeles 1984, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004).

n They have medalled in every Olympic Games since Melbourne 1956.

n At the last Olympic Games in Athens they won four out of six gold medals in the women's event.

n They are also seven times World Champions, the last title coming in Belgium 2001.

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