Florentina Marincu became just the second athlete in the history of the IAAF World Youth Championships to win both the Long Jump and Triple Jump crowns, the only other double being achieved a decade ago by her compatriot Cristine Spataru.
“I don’t know Cristine but I know of her. Sadly she retired from the sport (with injuries) so we haven’t spoken about what she had done and maybe she could have given me good advice but I’m proud that I’m carrying on this tradition,” said the studious Marincu.
"Now I want to go to the World Junior Championships next year and win two gold medals as well, but before then I will go to the European Junior Championships in Italy next week and I’ll do both events again.”
She will be competing there against girls up to two years older than her but leads the 2013 European junior Triple Jump lists and is third among the long jumpers.
Having made a breakthrough last winter and having competed almost exclusively in Bucharest, generally little was known internationally about Marincu other than her statistics.
However, in Donetsk she was happy to oblige and talk about her background.
“I come from Deva and, as everybody involved in sports knows, it’s like a temple for gymnastics, many famous gymnasts have trained at the school there. However, when I was encouraged to do sports I was already too old and too tall to be a gymnast.
“My school coach then suggested that I could do well in athletics and so about six years ago I started out in athletics.
“But I’m glad I’m not a gymnast, I know some of them and I think gymnastics is harder than athletics; but I know that gymnasts also say that athletics is harder than gymnastics,” she joked.
“Athletics is my life. I don’t have much time to do anything else or have any other hobbies because when I come home after training I just have enough time to study. I train twice a day from Monday to Friday and once on Saturdays. On Sunday I relax, do some studying and meet some friends.
“After I finish college (where she finished third in her year overall to confirm the impression that she has plenty of talent between her ears as well as in her legs) I want to go to a university to do sports studies but I will stay in Deva, I want to stay with my coach Nicolae Alexe so I don’t think I will go to Bucharest or the United States.”
Internationally, Marincu was thrown in the deep end when she was just 16 and competed at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in March. It was her first trip abroad and proved a bit of a culture shock, as she was unable to go beyond six metres, failing to progress beyond the qualifying rounds.
However, the trip to Gothenburg also proved to be a learning experience about what was needed to succeed at major events, knowledge she used to her advantage in Donetsk.
She was also able to watch at close hand her role model Darya Klishina, the IAAF World Youth Championships gold medallist six years ago, in action as the Russian flew to her second indoor continental title.
“I like Klishina very much among the senior long jumpers, as for triple jumpers, I don’t know them very well but it was a very proud moment to get my Triple Jump gold medal on Thursday from the reigning World champion Olha Saladuha.
“We couldn’t communicate very well as my English is not very good and I couldn’t find the words easily, we don’t speak the other person’s language, but it was very exciting that someone like her was giving me the medal. For sure, I will try to talk to her in the future.
“In the longer term, I want to win an Olympic gold medal, not just any medal but a gold. Perhaps in the Long Jump as I prefer that event to the Triple Jump.”
By coincidence, the last time a Romanian field event athlete won an Olympic gold medal, it was Anisoara Cusmir-Stanciu, who took the women’s Long Jump gold medal at Los Angeles 1984 and held the World record between May 1983 and September 1985 with 7.43m, a mark which still stands as the Romanian record to this day.
Marincu admits that it’s a tall order for her to emulate Cusmir-Stanciu but sometimes great things come from having ambitious dreams.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF