Ponor's return boost for Romania on and off floor

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Associated Press

Posted on October 3, 2011 at 9:01 AM

Updated Monday, Oct 3 at 9:03 AM

TOKYO (AP) — Catalina Ponor is the center of attention at the world gymnastics championships, and the triple Olympic gold medalist wouldn't have it any other way.

Back in her element after deciding she's not cut out for the sedate life of a retiree, the 24-year-old is giving the Romanians some badly needed swagger as they rebuild their once-proud women's program. Coach Octavian Belu says Romania needs a star, and Ponor certainly qualifies. She won the beam and floor titles after leading Romania to the team gold in Athens, and her sassy attitude made judges and competitors alike stop and stare.

Romania hasn't been quite the same since. After being a regular on the world podium since 1981, it's been shut out of the team medals twice in the past five years.

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