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Aurelia Dobre: Golden Girl

Before the Olympics two documentaries were made in the gym at Deva, one called "The Romanian Dream" and the other "Dobre and Silivas: Queens of Seoul" The pressure to win was already beginning. Yet when Aurelia, sitting in a park with a tiny flower behing her ear, was asked who she thought would win the gold medal in Seoul, she smiled modestly and said "Daniela".

Aurelia made the Romanian team for the Seoul Olympics, along with Daniela Silivas, Celestina Popa, Eugenia Golea, Gabriela Potorac, and Camelia Voinea. She would have perhaps been a gold medal favorite if not for her injured right knee, which seemed to give her trouble especially on beam, where she wobbled, and floor, where she was forced to do easier tumbling passes. In spite of her injury the quality of her gymnastics remained high, and she placed sixth in the overall competition. Her performance helped the Romanian team to win the team silver medal

Her teammates did well; Silivas just lost the all-around gold medal to Elena Shushunova, but won gold apparatus medals on floor, uneven bars, balance beam, and a bronze on vault, and Gabriela Potorac finished fourth all around and won silvers on beam and vault.

Not long after the Olympics, members of the Romanian gymnastics team appeared in an exhibition in Hong Kong with members of the Chinese team. Our coaches arranged for us to go watch. Expecting the arena to be huge, I brought along my binoculars!

It was a great performance. I recall watching Aurelia and Daniela perform a floor routine, wearing oversize t-shirts, and also saw Silivas trying a dance move she saw from Hong Kong's top star at the time, Kwong Mei-Fong. I didn't try to get an autograph, but some teammates of mine did. Apparently they communicated with the Romanians in French!

Aurelia continued competing until 1989, where she was a member of the World Championship silver medal winning team. In 1990 and 1991 she did exhibitions and professional competitions. Eventually, her injured knee made competition impossible, but as Aurelia might have retired soon anyway. She said, "I didn't want to be the last one to stop. I always wanted to stop at the peak of my career."

Despite her success and outward appearance of good humor, Aurelia was at one point embittered by her experiences. At the training center in Deva, the gymnasts were fed very little, starved almost, and punished if they sneaked food. They were not allowed to keep prize money they had won. Even the chance to travel was not worth much. Aurelia said she thought she had been in Paris five times, but didn't see more than the airport.

She also regretted her lack of education. "The lessons we got were political instructions. In fact, we didn't go to school at all in Deva. I haven't been taught anything other than gymnastics. I get nervous if people ask me questions".

She also said the the Romanian Federation lied about the ages of gymnasts in order for them to be eligible to compete. "Silivas was two years too young to compete at the 1985 World Championships". Aurelia's own age was not adjusted, but teammate Celestina Popa confirmed the deceptions when she said "Sometimes people on the street asked me how old I was. I didn't know what to tell them: my real age or the age the federation gave me...I was one year too young to compete at the 1985 World Championships."

Aurelia was quoted in International Gymnast, after she had finished with her career at age eighteen: "My worst experience is that I fell in love. I'm 18 years old right now, and don't know anything. I would rather have have a good teacher of love than a good gymnastics coach. They stole my youth. My youth has just started."

Since then, Aurelia's lot in life has improved. She married Boz Mofid, and they have two young sons, Cyrus and Darius. She is the choreographer/dance coach at her husband's gym in Gaithersburg, Maryland. People who have met her say she seems happy. It seems that after all her hard work and heartbreak, she is getting the real rewards she deserves.


Afterwards

AURELIA DOBRE In 1987, at just 14, Aurelia Dobre became the youngest-ever world all-around champion. Few would have guessed that first world championships would be the pinnacle of this elegant gymnast's career. Knee surgery followed quickly on the heels of her world title and Dobre would never again be able to attain top form, though she continued competing until early 1990. After her retirement, Dobre became a controversial figure in the sport, speaking out against the Romanian gymnastics system and posing for Dutch Playboy. (The spread, unlike Svetlana Khorkina's topless but tame photos, included some of Dobre's signature gymnastics poses done in the buff.)

In 1991, she came to the U.S. to compete in the World Professional Championships. Soon after, she met and fell in love with gym owner Boz Mofid. The couple married and have two boys, with two more on the way. (Dobre is currently expecting twins.) Together they run Fit 'n' Fun gymnastics.


Here are some links about Dobre:

Aurelia's competitive results.

Tribute to the 80's- includes a page on Aurelia

Seether's Romanian gymnastics page- includes an exclusive interview with Aurelia. See also the video snaps.

Sato Takeo's photographs of Aurelia are in the Gallery. Find his photos of many other gymnasts here.




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