Catalina Ponor named Romania flag bearer, expected to compete in Rio

Catalina Ponor
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Five-time Olympic medalist Catalina Ponor was named Romania’s flag bearer for the Rio Opening Ceremony on Wednesday and is expected to compete in her third Games.

Romania has one Olympic berth in women’s gymnastics, with Ponor and two-time world all-around medalist Larisa Iordache competing for the spot in recent months.

Ponor, who retired after taking three gold medals at the 2004 Athens Games and again after earning two medals at London 2012, is more ready to compete in Rio than rival Larisa Iordache, according to the Romania Gymnastics Federation.

Though Ponor wasn’t announced as a Rio Olympian on Wednesday, and Iordache is expected to travel to Rio, Iordache will compete “only if an unfortunate accident happens to Catalina and can not compete,” a Romanian Gymnastics Federation official said Wednesday. The official said it would be incorrect to call Iordache an alternate.

Romania shockingly failed to qualify a full, five-woman team for the Rio Olympics because it finished 13th at October’s world championships (top eight qualified for Rio) and seventh at April’s Olympic test event (top four qualified for Rio).

Romania, which earned a women’s team medal at every Olympics from 1976 through 2012, was left with one individual berth in the Rio Games.

Romania is still hoping to be given a second Olympic women’s gymnastics spot, according to Romania newspaper ProSport on Wednesday.

Iordache and Simone Biles were the only women to make the all-around podium at both of the last two world championships.

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