I am in the middle of another book about gymnastics and former Romanian gymnast Andreea Raducan is mentioned in the book I’m reading now. I am reposting this book review that was posted on my original blog on November 28, 2016. This review appears as is.
At the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Andreea Raducan put in a brilliant performance in gymnastics and won the all around gold medal. She also won a silver medal on the vault and a team gold medal. Unfortunately, Raducan was eventually disqualified and stripped of her gold all around medal because she tested positive for a banned substance. Before the competition, Raducan had complained of a headache. A team doctor gave her a cold pill which had pseudoephedrine, a banned substance, in it. Before she knew it, Andreea Raducan was famous for more than just her gold winning performance in the gym.
I always enjoy a good life story. Although I have never so much as successfully turned a cartwheel, I find women’s gymnastics fascinating. I probably downloaded Andreea Raducan’s 2013 book, The Other Side of the Medal on a drunken buying spree. I just finished reading Raducan’s book this morning and mostly enjoyed it. Since her turn at the Olympics, Andreea Raducan has become a journalist, television host, and sports announcer. She also does some modeling and promotional work. In short, she’s moved beyond life as a gymnast and become successful, despite losing her gold medal. She went on to win five more World Championships medals and retired from the sport in 2002.
The Other Side of the Medal is the story of how Raducan became a gymnast in a country that was once a veritable gymnast factory. Raducan notes that since Romania’s society changed after the fall of communism, children don’t get involved in sports the way they used to. She writes that parents are now too busy to support their athletic kids and they are less willing to send them away to be trained. I’m not sure what went on at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, but the Romanian women gymnasts were not contenders there. Raducan writes that a lot of the former great Romanian gymnasts have left Romania and are now working in other countries.
Andreea Raducan came of age at a time when Romania boasted many wonderful female gymnasts. She writes about the grueling training it took for her to reach the pinnacle of success and how crushing it was when she tested positive for “doping”. I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for Raducan, who had simply taken a pill that so many people take when they’re feeling sick. Many people were supportive of her after the controversy, including Nadia Comaneci. In Romania, she is seen as a sympathetic figure.
For the most part, I think Raducan’s book is a good read. I did notice some editing glitches, most of which appeared to be slight errors in proofreading. For instance, I noticed a couple of sentences where she clearly started to write something and changed her mind about how she wanted to express herself. She obviously went back to rearrange the sentence, but didn’t do a complete job of it. There were a couple of other times when it seemed like maybe there was a language glitch. Overall, though, I was impressed by Ms. Raducan’s ability to express herself. She includes some color photos as well.
I think The Other Side of the Medal is a good read for people who like true stories, enjoy women’s gymnastics, and are interested in Romania. I think I’d give this book a solid four stars out of five.
A video of Raducan performing at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
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