9 September 1978 |
Câmpuri, Vrancea, Romania
|Height||150 cm (4 ft 11 in)|
|Discipline||Women's artistic gymnastics|
|Head coach(es)||Octavian Bellu|
|Assistant coach(es)||Mariana Bitang, Nicolae Forminte, Toma Ponoran|
|Former coach(es)||Tatiana and Sergiu Popa|
Gina Elena Gogean (born 9 September 1978) is a retired artistic gymnast from Romania who competed internationally in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. During her career she won an impressive number of 30 medals at Olympic Games, world championships or continental championships. Her best events were the floor exercise (three-time world champion), the vault (two-time world champion) and the balance beam (1997 world champion). She was also an excellent all around gymnast winning several medals on this event, the European title in 1994, a silver Olympic medal (1996) and a silver medal at the 1993 World Championships. She helped the Romanian team win three consecutive world titles (1994, 1995 and 1997) and two Olympic team medals, a silver and a bronze (1992 and 1996). Gogean was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2013. Criticized for her lack of artistry and expression, Gogean nonetheless had nearly unmatched consistency, longevity and efficiency that made her a backbone of the Romanian team in the 1990s.
Her passport listed her birth year as 1977. However, in 2002 the Romanian newspaper ProSport obtained hospital records indicating that she had actually been born in 1978. Gogean and her mother have denied this, and her official birth year is still listed as 1977 or "unknown" in many sources. Gogean initially trained at CSS Focşani, near her home village, under the tutelage of Sergiu and Tatiana Popa. She made her international debut at the Japan Junior International meet in 1989, where she placed fourth in the all-around and took the gold medal on floor exercise.
By 1990, Gogean was representing Romania at major meets such as the Goodwill Games. She began to make a name for herself at the 1992 European Championships where she finished second all-around and vault. She also won the floor exercise. Crowds and analysts were impressed with the young athlete's exceptional difficulty. She was equally impressive at 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. The youngest member of the experienced Romanian team, Gina put up some of the highest scores for her team throughout the compulsories and optionals. She won a team silver, finished 6th in the all-around, and was 5th on vault. Though her teammate and close friend Lavinia Miloşovici was one of the stars of the Olympics, Gina nonetheless had established herself as a gymnast to watch for in the future.
In a sport where athletes are constantly fighting the battle of time as well as their maturing bodies, Gina continued to be one of the top gymnasts in the world each year after the Olympics. She was criticized for her lack of artistry in her gymnastics (particularly her post-1992 routines), and her stoic demeanor. Nevertheless, each year her gymnastics continually showed improvement from the year prior and her results reflected that. She finished a close second in the all-around behind rival Shannon Miller at the 1993 World Championships. Though she did not medal in the all-around the following year, she became the World Champion on vault, and won a bronze on floor. She also became the European All-Around champion that year, and played a critical role in helping the Romanian team win the 1994 Team World Championship—the country's first since 1987. Gina suffered a fall in the qualifying rounds of this competition while attempting a back handspring-layout-back handspring combination on beam. Her foot slipped off the side and the back of her head slammed into the beam before she crashed to the floor. Miraculously, she suffered no injury, and only took an extra moment to collect herself before jumping back up on the beam.
Though Gina struggled in major all-around competition through 1995 and 1996, her gymnastics continued to improve and she won more individual event World titles. At the 1995 World Championships, she helped the Romanians win their second team title, and went on to win the bronze on vault and the gold on floor. She added two more golds to her haul at the 1996 World Championships on vault and floor. Going into the 1996 Summer Olympics, the Romanians were the favorites to win team gold. However, the Romanian team had several injuries, was under manned during the team portion and had a very lackluster performance in both compulsories and optionals. The end result was a disappointing third. Gina, however, had a strong performance during the all-around and won the silver medal behind Lilia Podkopayeva of Ukraine. She also won two more bronze medals on the vault and beam. Her bronze medal on the balance beam was controversial as Dina Kotchetkova had a higher difficulty but finished below Gogean. This would repeat a year later at the world championships, when Kui Yuanyuan outperformed Gogean on the balance beam, but Gina still ended up winning the gold over Kui's more difficult routine.
Her performances in the 1996 Olympics were particularly impressive, as Gina underwent an emergency appendectomy only 5 weeks before the competition. By a bizarre and miraculous stroke of luck, she had been traveling on a train to Bucharest at the time, which was the only city where hospitals could perform the kind of non-invasive surgery that Gina needed to return to training quickly. Traditional surgery would have involved at least a six-week wait to resume light training; she would have missed the Olympics.
Gogean continued to compete after the retirement of Lavinia Miloşovici. She admitted in an ABC interview during the 1997 World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland that the new Code of Points made gymnastics too difficult for her, and that she intended to retire after the competition was over; yet she led the Romanians to their third straight world team title. Gogean herself finished just off the podium in fourth. She rebounded by winning the world title on beam and her third straight title on floor. She finished her career with twenty World and Olympic medals, nine of them gold.
Gogean retired after the 1998 World Cup, where she medalled in her all three events. After completing her studies she coached in Romania and later in Scotland, and also worked as a television commentator. Since 2001 she is a regular gymnastics judge.
On 1 July 2006, she married Cristian Gorza, a former classmate of hers, in a ceremony in Deva, Romania. Her former coaches, Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang, served as the godparents. Teammates Andreea Răducan and Maria Olaru were among the guests.
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