Rower of the Month – October 2021
It’s been a whirlwind few months for Romanian double sculler Ancuta Bodnar after she and her teammate Simona Radis won their first Olympic gold. The 23-year-old tells us what that’s been like and, after achieving such a big goal, what’s next.
World Rowing: Congratulations on your win at Tokyo. Can you talk us through the race?
Ancuta Bodnar: At the Olympics, we had our best races. In the final we started very strong, then we maintained a constant speed, and for the finish we started again to be very powerful. Simona and I were very focused the entire race and also the technique was important. Our entire preparation aimed at competing to the highest level and we did the best race we’ve ever done – personal best time and Olympic Record.
WR: What has it been like to be racing again after the disruptions of 2020 and 2021?
AB: It was amazing and unbelievable to compete again at such a high level. We had only taken part in the European Championships – senior and youth. Those competitions kept our faith and gave us power and confidence for the Olympic dream.
WR: What have you been doing since the Games?
AB: After the Olympics everything was different, even the vacation… interviews, tv shows, events. I’m happy that I have met so many people and been to new places, but the most satisfying thing in this period was being at home, in Vatra Moldovitei with my family. Also, I participated in the National Championships.
WR: What is your next big goal?
AB: The biggest dream is winning another gold medal – at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. We also want to break the World Best Time in double sculls.
WR: Why did you start rowing and why do you still row?
AB: Two professors in Osrova, Mariana and Cristian Malis, selected me for rowing in 2012. Everything was new to me but I decided to give a try. I didn’t know anything about rowing. Step by step I fell in love with the sport. The teammates were nice, the feeling that the sport gave me was special, the idea of a team, everything made me ambitious and gave me the desire to compete. My first national championship brought me a gold medal and that motivated me even more. So, I kept going. Day by day, my dream was to be better, to win more medals. The biggest achievement for any athlete is the Olympic medal.
WR: What is your favourite place to train?
AB: My favourite place to train is Snagov Lake, 30 kilometres from Bucharest.
WR: What has been the biggest challenge in your rowing career?
AB: The biggest challenge in my rowing career was qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. And after that, definitely, to conquer an Olympic medal.
WR: What is your favourite rowing moment?
AB: My favourite moment was when I crossed the finish line in the final race at Sea Forest Waterway (Tokyo). The feelings were wow! A big joy! Happiness! Triumph! Achievement! Satisfaction! It’s such a surreal and emotional experience to hear your own national anthem and see your flag go up. I’m very happy and proud that all the hard work paid off at the right time.
WR: What do you do when you are not rowing?
AB: In my free time I enjoy being with my family, my friends, visiting and discovering new places, watching movies and beauty contests. I also like shopping.
WR: Which sportsperson do you most admire?
AB: I admire most sportspeople. One of them is Elisabeta Lipa because she is the best rower of twentieth century and she supports us all the time. I also admire my coaches and Simona (Radis) my teammate, because they never gave up on our road to the Olympic Gold.