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Bellu, Bitang Back for Romania's 2016 Bid
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Legendary Romanian coaches Octavian Bellu and Mariana Bitang will return as coaches of the Romanian women's team through next spring to help secure Olympic qualification.

Legendary Romanian coaches Octavian Bellu and Mariana Bitang will return as coaches of the Romanian women's team through next spring to help secure Olympic qualification.

The Romanian women finished a worst ever 13th at October's world championships in Glasgow, failing to automatically qualify to next summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The team has one more chance to qualify via the test event in April in Rio, where they must finish in the top four teams to advance to the Olympics.

Bellu became head coach in 1989, and was joined by his future wife Bitang in 1993. The duo led the Romanian women's team to Olympic team titles in 2000 and 2004, and world titles in 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, and 2001. They retired several times since 2005. They returned for 2012, when Romania recaptured the European team title and finished third at the Olympics in London, where Sandra Izbasa (gold on vault) and Catalina Ponor (silver on floor exercise) won individual medals.

2016 will be the 40th anniversary of Nadia Comaneci's perfect 10.0 at the Olympics in 1976, which ushered in an era of Romania as one of the dominant forces in women's gymnastics.

From 1976 to 2014, Romania was the most consistent team in women's gymnastics, never finishing below fourth in the world championships or third in the Olympic Games. During this time they won 10 gold, nine silvers and five bronzes. Only the former Soviet Union was more dominant, winning 20 world and Olympic team titles between 1952 to 1992.

Bellu has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's most successful gymnastics coach, with 305 world, Olympic and European medals won during his career.

External Link: Romanian Gymnastics Federation

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