Gemini Gymnastics sensation Ana Padurariu eying 2020 Tokyo Games
OSHAWA — If there’s any good news to the fact Gemini Gymnastics sensation Ana Padurariu broke her foot in competition last month, it’s that it happened now and not a year or two down the road.
It would have been best not to happen at all, of course, but at least the 15-year-old Whitby resident has plenty of time to get back on the beam, so to speak, and take a run at fulfilling her dream of reaching the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Coming off a sensational final year at the junior level in 2017, Padurariu was making her senior debut at the annual Elite Canada meet in Quebec and leading through three events after finishing first in uneven bars and beam and second on floor.
Unfortunately, her vault went horribly wrong, as she landed awkwardly on her foot and fell flat on her face.
It was deemed her feet landed first and, remarkably, she was given enough of a score (11.850) to win the overall silver medal (54.085), a few tenths behind Brooklyn Moors (54.335).
“I don’t even know what happened. My hands just slipped on the vault and then I landed really weird and I got up and it swelled up right away,” said Padurariu, who learned later she had two avulsion fractures in her left foot. “I was quite devastated, but I have to stay positive or else nothing good will come out of it. Hopefully I’ll get stronger by this.”
It remains to be see how far the injury will set her back — she was expecting to be out of action for six to eight weeks — but there seems little question Padurariu has a bright future if she can regain her form.
She was named Gymnastics Canada’s junior athlete of the year for 2017 after sweeping the podium in all events at both the Elite Canada and Canadian Championships and performing well internationally at the Jesolo Cup in Italy and Gymnix Junior Cup in Montreal.
“It took a lot of hard work last year and obviously the previous years,” she said of the prestigious honour, which she shared with Elena Davydova and Valery Yahchybekov, named junior coaches of the year. “All the hard work with my coaches, and execution and trying to improve difficulty, I guess it paid off in the end.”
Although she will miss this year’s Gymnix meet and a World Cup event in Germany with the injury, Padurariu hopes to be back in time for the May national championships and the October world championships in Qatar.
A Grade 10 student at Sinclair Secondary School, she has been inspired to reach the Olympics since watching former Gemini athlete Kristina Vaculik compete at the 2010 London Games.
“I need to work my butt off these next two years to be able to get to the level where the girls with a lot of experience are,” she said. “It’s definitely a lot of hard work, but there’s a big reward at the end.”