F.I.G. – After silver surprise in Glasgow, the sky’s the limit for Marian Drăgulescu

At 34 years young, Marian Drăgulescu (ROU) made a spectacular return to international competition at the recent Glasgow Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, bounding to a silver medal on Vault and enjoying himself thoroughly every step of the way.
It was a long journey, and difficult, but I’m more than happy with my performance,” said the effusive Drăgulescu, who endeared himself to the crowd by “airplaning” gleefully onto the field of play while being introduced for event finals. “Best of all, I got into one final with the best young athletes in the world, who are so powerful. And to win a silver medal….I want to fly!”
A man ahead of his time on Vault, Drăgulescu pioneered the jump that bears his name (two front flips with a half twist) in 1999, and it helped him win four World titles on the event (2001, 2005, 2006 and 2009). Though he stuck his signature skill in event finals at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, he was never as consistent with his second vault, and had to settle for less than gold both times.
While the Drăgulescu is still considered among the most difficult in the world, Dragulescu knows that he may need to do even more if he wants to land on the Olympic podium next summer in Rio.
I need to improve my vaults, both of them, because with my start value I don’t have an equal chance with the other gymnasts,” he said. “Here in Glasgow, I am trailing (World Vault champion Ri Se Gwang) by sixth tenths just in terms of start value. So it’s not equal, and I need to equal the situation.” To that end, Drăgulescu has been training his namesake vault with an extra half twist, which would be named the Drăgulescu II in the code of points if he performs it successfully next summer in Rio.
In Glasgow, Drîgulescu competed all six events in an effort to qualify the Romanian men’s team for the Rio Olympic Games. His vault provided their highest score, 15.400, in team preliminaries, helping them finish 14th overall and advancing them to the Rio Olympic Test Event next spring, where they will get a second chance to qualify to the Games. With his individual silver medal, however, Dragulescu is guaranteed a place at the Olympics next summer. Regardless of how it goes there, he feels good about his vault and its place in Gymnastics history.
I invented this in 1999, and for five or six years, I was the only one to do it. It’s interesting, because I’m still here. I’m still competing. This is the most beautiful thing,” he said. “I’m honored, you know, and I’m happy. My name is in the code of points, and my name will go on. It’s a very beautiful vault, and it’s not easy. Not everyone does it. What gymnast would not be proud if they had invented an element in gymnastics?