Today's tribute to the 80's!

Posted by:danafan on January 1, 1997
Today's tribute goes to

Ecaterina Szabo

The star of the 1984 Olympics! Anyone who knows anything about gymnastics knows that Szabo was the real winner in 1984 Olympic all-around! Szabo came into prominence at an early age, winning back to back European junior titles in 1980 and 1982. Her first big "test" was 1983 worlds, where a large wobble on beam cost her the AA title (but she finished strongly scoring 10s in her last two events in the AA final, FX and V). In event finals, she won floor, tied for second on bars (with her teammate Agache) and also medalled in vault. Back in 1983/84, Szabo presented a floor routine with difficulty that would have been competitive up to and including the 1992 Olympic floor final: piked full-in to open; 1 1/2 through to a 1 1/2 to punch front middle pass; tucked full in dismount. By 1987 she had upgraded her middle pass to a 1 1/2 through to a 1 1/2 punch barani immediate punch front! Very eyecatching!

I won't dwell on the farce that was the 1984 Olympic AA, but Szabo proved her superiority in event finals, winning all the events she had qualified for (V, BB, and FX). She led after prelims at 1985 worlds, but sadly, a fall on her first event in AA finals (BB - again!) dropped her to 5th. She did win two silvers in event finals however (V and BB). In 1986, Szabo still looked strong, finishing fourth at the world cup. In 1987, this firey veteran helped her team upset the Soviets to win the team gold at the worlds. After two missed routines in AA finals she dropped to 14th AA (a shame, since she had been fourth after the first rotation in the AA finals - this was before new life). She did tie with Boginskaya for a bronze on beam to end the meet on a good note.

Although she surely would have made the 1988 Olympic team, she decided to retire. Her longevity in the sport is only one of her great attributes (one of many attributes that were lacking in the gymnast who actually won the 1984 Olympic AA - I don't know how she can live with herself!!! Needless to say, *she* won't be getting a tribute!) She went on to be a successful coach in Romania (I believe she is still coaching somewhere now - Britain? Not sure). Szabo, we will never forget you!