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History maker: Georgeta Popescu on her Lausanne 2020 fairytale speaks to the women’s monobob athlete, who became the first-ever Romanian woman to win a Winter Games gold medal at the iconic Olympia Bob Run in St Moritz.

Winning a Youth Olympic Games (YOG) gold medal is a special moment for any young bobsleigh athlete, but doing so at St Moritz’s Olympia Bob Run – the world’s oldest bobsleigh track and a host of two Winter Olympic competitions in 1928 and 1948 – takes some beating.

That’s exactly what happened to Romania’s Georgeta Popescu at Lausanne 2020, as her time of 2:26:84 in the women’s monobob final saw her pip Slovakia’s Viktória Čerňanská to the post to become the first female Winter Games gold medallist in her country’s history.

An unprecedented feat

The magnitude of the achievement is not lost on Popescu, even though she insists it wasn’t just a victory for herself – it was a victory for the whole of Romania.

“I’m extremely happy. However, I wasn’t interested in making history in bobsleigh or winter sports,” she says. “I was just interested in Romania being known and its values being known to the world.

“The only thing that really went through my mind is that I’ve made my country very proud. I met [IOC President] Thomas Bach and he told me that my medal is extremely precious for Romania, because we had never won a medal in women’s bobsleigh before.”

Georgeta Popescu OIS

Future hopes

A day after Popescu’s win, Romania claimed a second bobsleigh gold medal courtesy of Andrei Nica in the men’s monobob, capping off a highly successful YOG at the Olympia Bob Run for the country. Prior to Lausanne 2020, Romania’s only Winter Games gold medal came at the YOG Lillehammer 2016 when Eduard Casaneanu won the men’s ice hockey individual skills challenge. 

There are now hopes that Popescu, Nica and others can make an impact at the upcoming Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, where women’s monobob will be making its Olympic debut – something Popescu is understandably excited about.

“I'm really happy that there will be women’s monobob for the first time at Beijing 2022,” the 17-year-old says. “I hope to qualify and represent Romania. In my mind, Beijing 2022 is still quite far away, but until then I want to win more medals in monobob and continue to make my country proud.”

Georgeta Popescu OIS

A YOG to remember

For now, Popescu is happy to savour her triumph at the Olympia Bob Run, and while her fondest memories of Lausanne 2020 may be reserved for that particular venue, she also speaks of the overall YOG in glowing terms. It is an experience that should stand her in good stead for any future Olympic Games she competes in. 

“It was really good,” she says. “Everything was absolutely amazing and I'm really grateful because I had a fabulous Romanian family there with me. They encouraged me the whole time and made me extremely proud to represent the country.”

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