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Claudia Presacan

Belu's Little Soldier

Claudia Presacan Claudia Maria Presacan was born the first child of Adrian and Eugenia on December 28, 1979. After her there were two more boys and one girl to follow, Claudiu, Cristian, and Alina. Her family lived in Sibiu, the site of her first gymnastics club where she began training at age seven.

When Claudia's talent outgrew her small club of CSS Sibiu, she moved to Bucharest and trained at the club of Steaua as part of the junior team where she was coached by Eliza Stoica. In 1993 Claudia was accepted to the national team and moved to Deva. There she met her best friend, Simona Amanar. Claudia, or Piti, as she is called sometimes, was a valuable member of the team for several years, and national team coach, Octavian Belu nicknamed her "The Little Soldier", because she was always there for the team when they needed her. Claudia was such a strong gymnast that she was selected to represent her country at the 1996 Olympic Games.

However, the day before the team was scheduled to leave for Atlanta, Claudia broke her hand. It ended her Olympic dreams. But Piti was not finished, for she recovered and kept on training and was on the 1997 World Championship team where she helped Romania win their 3rd consecutive title and finished 8th in the All Around. She improved and finished 3rd at the 1998 European Championships behind Svetlana Khorkina and Simona Amanar.

Claudia trained for the 1999 World Championships, but retired about three weeks before the meet, citing a shoulder injury as her reason. Claudia's retirement, however, didn't last very long. Simona Amanar missed her best friend very much, and every day of Claudia's retirement, Simona called her and begged her to return to Deva. And Claudia finally gave in.

Claudia trained very hard and was selected to represent Romania in the 2000 Olympic Games. She was finally going to get the Olympics that had been taken away from her. Claudia competed beam and floor for Romania and helped win her country's historic first Olympic Gold in a non-boycotted ceremony. She also made finals on the beam, where she placed 4th. After the Olympics, Claudia announced her retirement, this time for good. But the World will never forget Romania's Little Soldier.

Claudia and Maria spent St. Nikolaus Day taking gifts to orphanages and retirement homes in Bucharest on behalf of the ROC. Later in the month the pair spent a week in Sibiu where they watched the Stalinskaya Cup, a soccer tournament, where Claudita cheered for Inter Sibiu, her favorite team. Claudia also took her drivers test, but didn't pass it. Piti also had the honor of being named the athlete of the year by CSA Steaua.

During the Olympics, the Romanian gymnasts roomed next to their country's rowing team. The girls came to be friends and cheered for one another during the ceremonies. Shortly after returning home following the games, Claudia Presacan tried out for the coxswain position on the rowing team and was selected. She has trained with the team, and competed in the World University Championships in Seattle, Washington. The Romanians placed second, and following the competition, six of the team members met some Seattle area Romanians and elected to stay in the states. Claudia and four of her teammates returned home. They are now back training at Snagov Lake, just outside of Bucharest.
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