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Ion Panţuru and Nicolae Neagoe - Bobsleigh two-men

Ion Panţuru and Nicolae Neagoe - Bobsleigh two-men

15/02/1968

While Eugenio Monti was on his way to being acclaimed as one of bobsleigh’s greatest competitors, another piece of history was being established among the medallists in the men's two-man.

Standing on the third step of the podium, with bronze medals round their necks, were Ion Panţuru and Nicolae Neagoe. It was – and still is – the only medal won by Romanian athletes at the Olympic Winter Games.

They were never in serious contention for gold, with Italy and West Germany markedly quicker. Over the course of the four runs, the two leaders set precisely the same cumulative time nearly three seconds clear of the field. The battle was for bronze, with little to choose between Romania, Austria and Great Britain.

The margin, in the end, was two-thirds of a second, taking Romania to the Olympic podium ahead of the Austrians.

Panţuru nearly won a second medal in Grenoble when he drove the four-man team that came fourth, missing out on a medal by just 0.1secs.

He did get a silver medal round his neck at the 1969 world championships in Lake Placid but lost his medal when he left it in a car as he hitch-hiked to the airport. Three decades later, a family clearing out their basement at home in Oklahoma discovered the medal, as well as Romania team badge. They tracked down Panţuru and returned his medal to him.

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