IN THE absence of Romania’s No.1 women’s competitor Larissa Iordache, Catalina Ponor will lead their challenge in Doha.
Ponor, who in 2016 became the first gymnast to be a flag-bearer of Romania at an Olympics opening ceremony in Rio, will be one of the star attractions in Doha, where she had won gold in beam with 14.650 points last year.
Born in 1987 in Constanta, Ponor won gold in team, floor and balance beam events at the 2004 Athens Olympics, but she announced her retirement after the 2012 London Games, where she won silver on floor and team bronze.
Interestingly, she came out of retirement to help her nation qualify for the Rio Games at the Olympic test event in April after their disappointing campaigns at the 2015 World Championships.
The 29-year-old was the sole individual competitor in the balance beam final for her country at Rio while others failed to cross the qualifying hurdles.
Though Ponor came seventh, it was a creditable performance given her age.