Gold Medal Coach: Viorel Popescu

Viorel Popescu, owner of Above the Bar Gymnastics Academy in Richmond, VA, has had a passion for the sport of gymnastics since he was seven years old. As his gymnastics career continued, he competed on the Romanian National Men’s Jr. and Sr. Teams. In 1999, he became a United States citizen and continued competing in USAG events until 2000.
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This Gold Medal Coach has had experience coaching levels of all ages including the Richmond Regional Men’s Gymnastics Team, the Boys Future Stars program, and a National Champion. He has also coached athletes at the Junior Olympics and the National Gymnastics Championships. Keep reading to find out Viorel Popescu’s secrets of being a great coach and which male gymnasts we should keep an eye on in 2016.

GK: Are there any differences between competing in Romania and in the United States? If so, what are they?
VP:  There are some  differences competing in Romania versus the US. The biggest difference is that the apparatuses were not elevated on a podium the way they are in the US. When I started competing in the US, this affected my performance because the apparatus responded in a different way.

GK: Share with us what your favorite part about competing as a gymnast was and how you translate that into your coaching techniques now.
VP: My favorite part about competing was traveling to various places around the world and executing incredibly difficult skills that very few would dare to try. The way I implement that into my coaching is by never telling my gymnasts what they’re going to do before they do it. If I did, it would scare them and they would shut down before even trying a new skill. 

GK: What has been your most rewarding experience as a coach?
VP: The most rewarding moment as a coach was when my gymnast, Kiwan, made the US National Team after so many years of hard work.

GK: Who are some of the up-and-coming male athletes we should keep an eye on?
VP: Some up-and-coming gymnasts to keep an eye on are Erik Engelke, level 9, as well as future stars candidates Austin, Cody Loving, Prentice Doerfler, and Lars Hogge.

GK: You have coached athletes from levels 1-10. Which level do you enjoy coaching most and why?
VP: I enjoy coaching the lower levels the most, even though it can be tedious. That’s where the molding begins. A coach’s personality is imprinted on their athletes who, in turn, will reflect it like a mirror. If you want to know yourself as a coach, look at your younger gymnasts.

Thank you Viorel Popescu for all your hard work and dedication to the sport of gymnastics. We wish you continued success!

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