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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | Spotlight

Belu, Not Bela

A look at the day that was and at what lies ahead at the Summer Games

July 27, 1996|MIKE PENNER

Was it gymnastic excellence or the constant haranguing of judges by Coach Octavian Belu that brought Romania three medals in Thursday night's women's all-around competition?

The Russians and the Chinese, to name two, claimed that Belu's weeklong badgering and intimidation of judges eventually paid off in a silver medal for Romania's Gina Gogean and a shared bronze for teammates Simona Amanar and Lavinia Milosovici.

China's Mo Huilan and Russia's Dina Kochetkova, 1-2 after three rotations, finished out of the medals entirely, when Huilan received a score of 9.65 on her final routine, the floor exercise, and Kochetkova a 9.581 on hers, the vault.

During the same rotation, Amanar and Milosovici both moved up with scores of 9.843 on vault and 9.812 on floor exercise, respectively.

Belu's response was typically combative.

"Why do you ask me to talk about judges?" he said. "I have more events to compete [in the individual apparatus finals].

"For me, it was a little bit strange. Why did the same head judge on floor exercise decide two times against Romania [to override the panel of judges and issue a lower score]? Maybe the first time is a mistake, but the second time is not a mistake. Perhaps in the future this decision should be left to decision of all judges, not just one judge.

"It is important to give equal chance for everybody. In the future, I think it will be better."

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