Deva school is falling apart

For over 20 years, the gymnastics center at Deva has been the home of Romania's best gymnasts, as well as one of the best known training centers in the world. Once Bela and Marta Karolyi were brought in as coaches, Deva became the national team training center. Even though conditions were less than ideal when Nadia and her coaches first arrived, the local school building was soon surrounded by two dorms, a modern gym, a practice gym, and an auditorium. Now known as the Olympic Center for Gymnastics and International Gymnastics Center, the Deva Sport Club won its international fame by virtue of its great results. Several international teams paid a hefty sum to come to train at Deva, and they still do. The school also has a high school program, and it recently started offering college courses for gymnasts who want to pursue a career in coaching.

School officials kept the pitiful state of the buildings a secret for as long as they could, saying potential students would no longer come to train at Deva if the truth came out. The only one who had the courage to publicize the current situation was Ion Bădoi, the school principal. He tried to attract attention to the plight of the school several times before, but it wasn't enough.

Noone can say things haven't improved for the National senior team. Even though they could use more money, officials were able to pay for renovating and upgrading the equipment inside the main gym. The national team members live in a nice apartment building next to the center. If a new parking lot could be build, so that Simona Amînar, Maria Olaru and Andreea Răducan could drive the cars they won as prize money [don't know how Raducan could ever drive. You have to be 18 to get a driver's license in Romania], one could say the center meets the condition required to promote world-class performance, However, in order to reach that high level of performance, gymnasts must put in countless hours of training --in gyms and dorm rooms that are falling apart.

Ion Bădoi tried to get the local business people involved in solving the problem. He made several attempts to raise funds at press conferences, or by organizing galas. The latest fund raisers held on March 7th failed miserably. The 20 businessmen who showed up only managed to put together about $150, and that included donations from coach Octavian Belu and governor Mihail Rudeanu. Besides, the Education and Research Ministry, represented by minister Ecaterina Andronescu promised to give an emergency fund of $800 to the Deva schools. The minister also promised to visit Deva in the next weeks, so she can analyze the situation herself. In effort to raise awareness about the conditions the gymnasts have to live in, Deva officials invite all visitors inside the buildings, to see how bad things are.

Unless the situation at Deva improves, this could spell disaster for the Romanian gymnastics program. The strong ties between the high school, elementary and middle school, CSS Deva and the national team, a possible collapse of the school could affect the National gymnastics program. If the money to repair the school and dorms cannot be raised, ill-will would be the only culprit. This past week-end a few more bricks fell out from the Deva dorms, this time hitting 3 gymnasts (Nicoleta Diaconescu, Anca Gărdus, Cosmina Oprea) who were asleep in their room. None of them were seriously injured, but school officials don't know where they could move the 14 gymnasts from the room until the ceiling is fixed.

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