by Anna Rose Johnson
At the Mexican Open event last weekend, Romanian legend Catalina Ponor announced her official retirement from the sport of gymnastics. A three-time Olympic champion, Ponor has been intermittently competing at the senior elite level since 2003. As she rarely competed on the uneven bars, Ponor became of the greatest three-event specialists of all time, performing powerfully on vault, beam, and floor. In honor of this talented gymnast’s retirement, we’re looking back on the best moments of her long and memorable career.
2003 WORLD FLOOR SILVER
Ponor’s first major international victories came at the 2003 World Championships in Anaheim, where she won three silver medals—which she would upgrade to gold at the next Olympic Games!
2004 OLYMPIC BEAM GOLD
Winning gold with her team and also on floor and beam, Ponor’s performance in Athens was perfection. This beam routine combined strength, grace, artistry, and originality in a flawless blend.
2011 WORLD TEAM VAULT
After a long absence from the sport due to a back injury sustained prior to Beijing 2008, Ponor returned to help her team to a fourth-place finish in the finals at Tokyo 2011. This solid vault was a big contribution to the team’s success.
2012 OLYMPIC FLOOR SILVER
Extending her amazing comeback even further, Ponor qualified to the London Olympics and made several finals, including the floor final. This incredible routine earned a silver medal against a highly competitive field of floor workers.
2017 EUROPEAN BEAM GOLD
Ponor took a break after her magnificent showing in London, but she returned in time to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Determined to continue after missing out on a medal in Rio, Ponor vowed to return for the 2017 European Championships. Not only did she compete—she also won beam gold.