Ten Successful Romanians

1. Irina Nagy Klimovschi (1936-2001)


Medals

Gold at the WCh 1956, 1960 (11 players) and 1962 (7 players)

1960/1961 European Champions’ Cup winner with Stiinta Bucuresti

1963/1964 European Champions’ Cup winner with Rapid Bucuresti

Awards

All-Star goalkeeper WCh 1956 and 1960

Club teams

Progresul Targu Mures, Stiinta Bucuresti, Rapid Bucuresti

National team

136 caps (2 goals)

WCh 1956, 1960, 1962, 1965


2. Mariana Tirca (1962-)


Medals

1995/96 ChL winner with Podravka Koprivnica

Awards

All-Star playmaker WCh 1995

Club teams

Rulmentul Brasov, CS Stiinta Bucuresti, Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea, Podravka Koprivnica, GAS Anagennisi Artas

National team

All-time top-scorer 335 caps (2043 goals)

WCh 1986, 1987, 1989, 1993, 1995, 1997

ECh 1996

Active

NO

* Interview with Tirca


3. Valentina Cosma (1963-)


Medals

1995/96 ChL winner with Podravka Koprivnica

Awards

Club teams

Terom Iasi, Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea, Podravka Koprivnica, ESC Yutz Handbal

National team

All-time third top-scorer 322 caps (980 goals)

WCh 1986, 1987, 1989, 1993, 1995, 1999

ECh 1996

OG 2000

Active

NO


4. Luminita Dinu (1971-)


Medals

Silver at the WCh 2005

2000/2001 and 2002/2003 ChL winner with Krim Ljubliana

2001/2001 ChL winner with Kometal Skopje

2006/2007 CWC winner with Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea

Awards

All-Star goalkeeper ECh 2000 and WCh 2005

Club teams

Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea, Krim Ljubljana, Kometal Skopje

National team

201 caps (9 goals)

WCh 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007

ECh 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2008

OG 2000, 2008

Active

NO


5. Steluta Luca (1975-)


Medals

Gold at the Junior WCh 1995

Silver at the WCh 2005

2006/2007 CWC winner with Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea

Awards

Club teams

Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea, Dossobuono Verona, Randers, FCK Copenhagen

National team

All-time second top-scorer 223 caps (1013 goals)

WCh 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007

ECh 1998, 2000, 2002

OG 2000

Active

NO


6. Simona Gogarla (1975-)


Medals

Gold at the Junior WCh 1995

Silver at the WCh 2005

Awards

Top-scorer of the ECh 2000

Club teams

CSS Focsani, Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea, Krim Ljubljana, SD Itxako, Gyori ETO, Rulmentul Brasov, Rapid Bucuresti

National team

93 caps (455 goals)

WCh 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005

ECh 1998, 2000

Active

Coach of HCM Ramnicu Valcea

* Profile on Simona Gogarla


7. Carmen Amariei (1978-)


Medals

Gold at the Junior WCh 1995

Bronze at the Junior WCh 1997

2002/2003 EHF Cup Winner with ESBF Besançon

2004/2005 and 2006/2007 ChL winner with Slagelse

Awards

Top-scorer of the WCh 1999

Club teams

Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea, ESBF Besançon, Randers, Slagelse, U Jolidon Cluj, Rulmentul Brasov, FCK Copenhagen, Viborg, Terom-Z Iasi, SCM Craiova

National team

All-time 4th top-scorer 182 caps (855 goals)

WCh 1999, 2001, 2003, 2009, 2011

ECh 1998, 2002, 2004, 2008

OG 2000, 2008

Active

NO


8. Cristina Varzaru (1979-)


Medals

Gold at the Junior ECh 1998

Gold at the Junior WCh 1999

Silver at the WCh 2005

Bronze at the ECh 2010

2005/2006, 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 ChL winner with Viborg

Awards

All-Star right winger Junior ECh 1998

All-Star right winger Junior WCh 1999

Top-scorer of the 2009/2010 ChL

Club teams

CSS Corabia, Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea, Rapid Bucuresti, Viborg, CSM Bucuresti

National team

178 caps (493 goals)

WCh 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2011

ECh 2000, 2002, 2004, 2010

OG 2000

Active

Plays for CSM Bucuresti (ROU)

* Profile on Cristina Varzaru


9. Valentina Ardean Elisei (1982-)


Medals

Gold at the Junior ECh 2000

Silver the  WCh 2005

Bronze at the ECh 2010

2006/2007 CWC winner with Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea

Awards

All-star left winger at the WCh 2005 and ECh 2008

Club teams

Universiteatea Remin Deva, Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea, ZRK Knjaz Milos, HCM Baia Mare

National team

All-time fifth top-scorer 181 caps (735 goals)

WCh 2005, 2011, 2013

ECh 2004, 2008, 2010

OG 2008

Active

Plays for HCM Baia Mare (ROU)


10. Cristina Neagu (1988-)


Medals

Silver at the Youth ECh 2005

Bronze at the Youth WCh 2006

Bronze at the Junior ECh 2007

Bronze at the ECh 2010

2014/2015 ChL winner with Buducnost

Awards

MVP of the Youth ECh 2005

MVP and all-star left back Youth WCh 2006

All-Star left back Junior ECh 2007

IHF Rookie of the year 2009

Top-scorer and all-star left back ECh 2010

IHF World player of the year 2010

All-star left back ECh 2014

Nominated for the IHF World player of the year 2014

Top-scorer of the 2014/2015 ChL

Club teams

Rulmentul Brasov, Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea, Buducnost Podgorica

National team

111 caps (455 goals)*

WCh 2007, 2009, 2013

ECh 2008, 2010, 2012

OG 2008

Active

Plays for Buducnost Podgorica (MNE)


Some thoughts…

  • Longest NT career: Cosma 1986-1999.
  • One player has won an international cup with every team: Dinu.
  • Except for Nagy, all players have played for Oltchim Valcea.
  • Two players have never won a European Cup: Gogarla and Neagu**.
  • Two players have never won an NT medal: Tirca and Cosma.

The five all-time national team top-scorers are on the list: Tirca, Luca, Cosma, Amariei and Elisei.

In listing the ten most successful Romanians in the history of women’s handball, I have taken into account international medals, awards and recognitions, as well as the players’ contribution to the national team in  goals scored and matches played. But let us not forget the difference between our times and the previous era of handball: the IHF award only exists since 1988, the European Championship was first played in 1994, youth competitions were implemented only a couple of decades ago. In short, contrary to the heydays of Romanian handball in the 1960s, today, our players get plenty of chances to stand out.

* Selections and goals of all players until 2012 according to FRH. ** Eventually, Neagu won the Champions League with Buducnost in 2015.

Budapest Day 6: The Aftermath Review

Semi-finals Day

The opening ceremony inspired from the Harry Potter movies reminded us all that we were in the right place. Although a bit pompous, it was actually appropriate in this beautiful city, out of a medieval fairytale.

The first game day began with Gyor’s one-team-show. FCM was the second best team of the day and who knows what might have happened if they hadn’t met the title holder. Buducnost was in some respects well-prepared, defending the centre and the wings, running back in defence, getting the ball forward on counter and second phase. Neagu netted 6 goals from around 20 shots, and Popovic and Adzic were all hugs and kissed around her. After the 60 minutes buzzer, Adzic literally took her into his arms as if to say “You are my girl”.

Milena Knezevic came in at the end of the game and had a “talk” with Gyor’s supporters who were asking her to come take a photo. She avoided it, of course. I was thinking that maybe Buducnost had an advantage not having played Knezevic in the semi and that at least one player would be fresh the following day. Fresh, yes. But cool? Knezevic?

The atmosphere in the hall at Gyor’s game, was anything but torrid. The anti-cheering on the Buducnost-Vardar game made more of an impression on me.

Finals Day

The hall was half empty at the FCM – Vardar game. Rightly so, as it didn’t provide any excitement or suspense. Lekic’s technical prowess and Radicevic’s exhibitionism were reasons enough for me to be satisfied.

In theory, the final brought together the two best teams of the competition. It is very special to see these teams live and only now do I see the geometry that makes the team from Gyor superior to any other. Unlike ETO, Buducnost’s passes are mostly going sideways. Once their prime move is stopped, they can’t regain flow in the latter phase of their positional attack.

These are two different approaches of handball: a marriage of Spanish and Hungarian philosophies on one hand, the Balkan style on the other. ”Just keep going, just be patient, just wait for the best position and keep moving the ball”. It is only now that Ambros’ timeouts start to make sense to me. “Move the ball” means “keep a high pace and send the ball from left to right and back, be dangerous from all positions, confuse the opponent”. In the Balkan style of play, quick solutions are sought and patience is superfluous.

In was probably due to the early hour of the day or to the overconfidence, but there were no frenzy or shivers on the corridors of the Papp Laszlo Arena. Seen from the hall, the festivities of Gyor’s coronation were not the huge celebration I had expected either. I missed the folly and the melodrama of the past years. Gyor winning their first title was moving. Now, we have entered a whole other era, the era of domination, with fewer emotions, and more quality handball.

The joy at the end

At 00:40, the ETO girls run over a photographer.

At 01:50, a coach comforting Neagu

At 02:05, the teams shake hands

At 03:50, Bulatovic salutes the Varvari

Gyor is the champion

P.S. I haven’t watched the replay of the finals yet, but let me quote just one of O Brannagain’s bloopers from the semi-finals day: commenting on Petrovic taking a penalty “The courage… How old is she? She is (pause) 26. Well, she looks 16.” He had no idea who Radmila Petrovic was.

So that was all from Budapest. Thank you for reading!

Budapest Day 5: Two Small Timeouts, One Big Victory

The first semi-final opposing Gyor and Midtylland, was for both teams more of a training session. This is understandable in respect to Ambros Martin’s approach of the Final4. However, it does not flatter the Danes, who have shown their skills in attack but lacked aggressiveness in defence. They may have brought a great spirit to Budapest, but it was not the right one.

The game started with Gyor’s superb attacking display, Görbicz’s passes having no truble reaching Loke. Tervel and Amorim’s defence was a thing of perfection, as Thorsgaard barely touched the ball, let alone score. On the other side of the court, Groot was as reliable as ever, whereas the Jorgensens’ fluctuations were extremely costly. Defensively, Line J. was the most disappointing player, as she let in several goals on the outside. To conclude on this first match, let us emphasize Gyor’s ease at scoring in crucial moments of the game and FCM’s well organised first and second phase that might get them past Vardar in the final for the third place.

Final minute of the first semi-final

The first half of Buducnost versus Vardar reproduced the scenario of the first game. However, Vardar’s deficit was mostly the result of their chaotic, and sometimes absurdly childish, attack. The second half continued in the same manner until the final 15 minutes.

In handball, we are used to see the team that catches up during the money-time win the duel. Unless… there is an overtime. The two stars of the teams, Lekic and Neagu were caught completely out of touch, so small things decided the final ten minutes: the audacity of the three French players in Vardar, the spectators’ frentic support, Buducnost’s play in minority and … the coaches’ decisions: all in all, the Macedonians were riding high. One minute to the end, Indira Kastratovic called a timeout the second Nikolic scored the goal that would have put them in front. The goal was cancelled and Vardar missed the next attack. Buducnost’s turn! Dalby makes an attacking foul, but Dragan Adzic is there to turn the game around with a timeout. In the overtime, Neagu returns from hell to show what an extraordinary survivor she is. Two small timeouts, one big victory.

Popovic interview before the second game

Budapest Day 4 : Teams Overview

DSCN0819Nemzeti Sport interviewed Lekic who believes Buducnost to have the upper hand in this fight. On the same page, Katarina Bulatovic, Radmila Miljanic and Trine Ostergaard speak their mind: “there are no favourites”. Instead of asking the question “Who will win?”, another one comes to mind “Who is there?”. The best players in the world and just a couple of absences. What do they have something in common ? A lot …

Cristina Neagu played the EHF Champions League in 2010, but it has been a long dry spell since then for the Romanian star. On the other hand, the Montenegrins in the team jumped from pre-qualification phase to the e-European podium in just two years. As for Buducnost’s international recruits, Woltering and Cvijic, they became world-renowned only since playing leading roles in the ChL.

Since Euros in Denmark, FCM started from scratch with national team players. Do you remember that beautiful Danish team which conceded the bronze to Romania at Euros 2010. Many players from that team are in Budapest, Dalby, Jörgensen, Troelsen, Thorsgaard. And Laerke Möller … one of the most unlucky player of the past years, is here, healthy and ready.

Andrea Lekic went through good times and bad times in Gyor and only now is she the leader of a team, a role that she has always wanted to assume fully. And what about the French girls in Vardar? In 2011, after Worlds in Brazil, I was observing the French payers’ wish to know the meaning of true glory, also known as “The Champions League”. They have done it, Pineau, Leynaud, Dembele are in Budapest.

Gyor has changed direction since 2010, when they were, to no one’s surprise, defeated by Oltchim Valcea in the ChL semifinals. Since then, they have started paving their way to the crown of Europe with the help of two brilliant players, Katrine Lunde and Heidi Loke, who have taken this lumpy team to another level.

The year 2010 was the beginning of a new generation, entering the elite with the same ambitions as their predecessors. They have come a long way to reach four years later, today, the peak of their careers. Today, the world’s best handball players have gathered in Budapest and that is what makes this event too remarkable to ever be reproduced.

Photos

Budapest Day 3: A Land Of Athletes

Since coming to Budapest, I have seen people canoeing, running and cycling. What makes this county so drawn to sports? Did you know that Hungary is one of the most successful countries at the summer olympic games?

Before drawing the picture of the Hungarian sports culture, let us have a guess at the most productive sports at the Summer Olympic Games (have your pick before reading forward):

a. water polo, swimming, handball

b. fencing, swimming, canoeing

c. fencing, athletics, gymnastics

Handball, an olympic discipline since 1976, has done well with two bronzes and one silver. Also, Hungary is the greatest olympic nation in men’s water polo. However, as there is only one medal to grab in team sports, it doesn’t add much to the total count.

In gymnastics, some legendary athletes of the recent decades are Henrietta Onodi (a gold on vault) and Szilveszter Csollany (a gold on rings). As for athletics, the Hungarians haven’t been as successful as their Romanian neighbours for instance, or as the Bulgarians, further south. The explanation is obvious, if you ask me: they spend more time in water than on hard land.

Joke aside, in Budapest alone, aquatics facilities have existed since the Middle Ages, thanks to those pushy Ottomans that built Turkish baths all over town (still functioning today). In the light of these facts, the correct answer to my multiple-choice question, is quite easy.

A hundred years

of fencing, swimming and canoeing. At the London Olympics, a Hungarian sabreur, Aron Szilagyi, won the gold medal after a twenty-year break in men’s competitions. The pre-WWII olympic history of fencing was dominated by the Hungarians. Then a steep revival occurred in the ’60 and ’70. In women’s epee, Timea Nagy was and still is considered among the few best in history, after having won two olympic titles in 2000 and 2004.

The country’s first medal in swimming came at the Games of the I Olympiad, in Athens 1896. Soon afterwards, an olympic pool opened in Budapest, bearing the name of the first Hungarian gold medalist: Alfred Hajos. The hero of the recent decades was Krisztina Egerszegi, the undisputed queen of backstroke, having won gold in 200m at three consecutive Olympics between 1988 and 1996. How was this possible? The woman was 14 at her first Games.

I believe that canoeing is the least appealing sport to watch among the hungarian top three. I insist on ‘to watch’, because I am convinced, after spending some time around canoeing schools here on the Danube, that it is an exciting, competitive and demanding discipline to practice. Hungary’s most impressive results at the Games were achieved in Sydney 2000: four gold medals.

A thousand years …

in search of national identity. Hungary’s need to express pride in the nation comes after a long and loaded history including periods of occupation (by the Turks), suzerainty (of the Habsburgs) or even destruction (WWII). In 1956, students lead a demonstration demanding democratic reforms, but as they were no match for the overwhelming Soviet forces, the city was seized by the Russians.

1956 was the year of the Melbourne Olympics, which took place in autumn, shortly after the siege of Budapest. The Men’s olympic final in water polo brought together, you guessed well, Hungary and The Soviet Union. (Here is the trailer of a 2006 film recalling this fantastic happening). After an intense match, Hungary won 4:0.

Today, sports are a hobby foremost, an idea that has been seeded mostly by the media. Moreover, in such a city, it’s hard to keep one’s snickers inside as the soft climate together with the tracks on the hills of Buda and along both riversides are made for running. Besides, you have exceptional events like the Women’s Champions League Final4 to remind you that Budapest is maybe the greatest capital of sports never to have hosted Summer Olympics.

Photos of rowers on Labour Day

Budapest Day 2 : The Winds Of Budapest

A strong wind blows on the Danube, spreading the news left and right. While waiting for a tram on the left bank, I spotted an EHF Final4 Anita Gorbicz poster. I hadn’t seen any such advertisements on billboards in Budapest until today.

In the sea of tourists set on wining and dining, the Women’s Final4 is the last thing you’d think about. I brought up the word “handball” today to a French. Nothing, no reaction. I was expecting a sign of approval on his kind face. Not today…

So, I headed north in search of the Roman remains of Budapest. Just in theory, because the modern Budapest has very little to do with the original settlement. Obuda (the old Buda) and further north Aquincum have been integrated in the contemporary urbanism. Archaeological diggings find place under public highways and next to residential blocks.

Some of the places on my map, like the villa of Hercules, were difficult to find. But as soon as I returned to more ordinary paths, the Aquincum museum offered me an enriching selection of objects excavated recently in the Budapest area. The most intriguing thing you will find in this museum is an organ, a genuine music instrument from the Antiquity, known to us through literary and epigraphic sources. Moreover, a Hungarian scholar has reproduced the instrument that we can listen to on the museum’s second floor.

Other highlights are a facsimile of a modest roman villa, based entirely on finds at Aquincum and a temporary exhibition showing the museum’s researchers’ favourite objects that normally sit in a box in the warehouse. A delicate small samian terracotta depicting the popular god Mithras, a children’s game and two millefiori brooches were among my favourites.

Getting back to Budapest’s city centre after having visited the Roman colonia was another story. If one wishes to take the boat back, then he should get a bus until the next station north and anticipate a 20 minutes walk to the Danube without the help of guiding boards. It is worth it, even if you do not have wind proof clothing.

In the evening, as I was still under the spell of the (almost) ten euros cake that I just had at Gerbeaud, another billboard came my way, on a deserted street. The northern and southern winds were telling me all day long: it’s soon Final 4 day!

Photos