For this Gymnast Profiles edition, I am featuring European Championships Silver Medalist, Larisa Iordache.
Date of Birth: June 19, 1996
Age: 16 going on 17
Height:1.50 meters, 4'11"
Hometown: Bucharest, Romania
Club: CSS Dinamo
Coaches: Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang
Best Events: Balance beam and Floor Exercise
Larisa Iordache has been called the next Nadia. It's easy to see why. In her first year as a senior, Larisa was a part of the gold medal winning Romanian team at the 2012 European Championships and helped the Romanians bring home the bronze medal at the London Olympics in July.
Larisa, like many high level athletes, began gymnastics as a little girl. She started taking ballet as a child and wanted to start gymnastics after watching it on TV. She began training at her current club, CSS Dinamo and in 2008, she was named to the junior national team.
The world first took notice of Larisa at the 2010 European Championships in Birmingham, UK. She took a second place finish in the junior all around final behind Russia's Viktoria Komova. She also took home the silver medal for the floor exercise and the balance beam.
2012 marked Larisa's official senior debut at the age of 15. Since rules stated that a gymnast must turn 16 in a calendar year in order to be considered senior and Larisa had her sweet 16 that June. In March, Larisa officially made her senior debut at the American Cup, which was held in Madison Square Gardens, the same place that Nadia Comaneci made the world take notice of her. Larisa ultimately finished third behind Americans Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman.
Her good luck continued through May when she helped the Romanian team bring home the team gold at the European Championships. Individually, she brought home a gold medal for the floor exercise and a silver for the balance beam. Larisa was selected for the Olympic team in London, expected to be a big contender for an all-around medal in London.
Unfortunately as John Steinbeck once said, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. In London, Larisa developed a condition in her left foot called planters faciitis. A condition where the planter fascia, or the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot is inflamed. It's caused by the overuse of the arch tendon or planter fascia. It's usually more common in people with a higher body mass index. Despite this painful condition, Larisa qualified for the all around final and the beam final. The Romanians brought home a bronze medal and Larisa placed ninth in the all-around and sixth on the beam. While I understand that this may have been disappointing, the fact that she got her ass out there and did the best she could speaks volumes.
In 2013, Larisa has come out with all her cards on the deck. With most the depletion of the Romanian team, it allows for new leaders to come out of the wood works. Larisa and her teammate Diana Bulimar were the only two Romanian gymnasts to represent their country at the European Championships. Larisa qualified to the all around and the vault, beam and floor finals. She medaled in every final she competed in, ultimately bringing home a silver in the all-around, vault and floor and picking up a shiny new gold medal for the balance beam.