The 40-year-old continues his quest for an elusive Olympic gold this summer in Tokyo
Though Romanian gymnast Marian Dragulescu has participated in four Olympic Games – and already qualified to a fifth at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics – he came up just short of his ultimate dream: Olympic gold. The 40-year-old is the winner of a silver and two bronze medals from Athens 2004, but feels unfinished business as he still dreams of becoming Olympic champion.
“It's the only medal I am missing for my career,” Dragulescu told Tokyo2020.org.
“I have medals from the European Championships, the world championships, the Olympic Games, also, I have a silver and bronze. It's very important for me, the only missing medal from my career.”
Here are five things you might not know about the gymnastics star.
In gymnastics, if you're the first to compete an element in international competition, they name the skill after you. That's why the front handspring, double front half out is now called the 'Dragulescu.' He first performed the element in 1999. Rated at a 5.6 difficulty value, the vault is still one of the most difficult currently being performed in men's gymnastics. No woman has ever attempted the vault in competition.
At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Dragulescu stuck the vault, earning a massive 9.900 score for it.
Even as he approaches his fifth Olympic Games at age 40, Dragulescu says he knows better than to say when he will finally step away from the sport.
"I learned to never say no," he says. "After Beijing, I was sure I will be retiring in 2008 at 28 years old. So, I see myself today still doing what I love the most: gymnastics. I'm glad I am able to do that. I'm healthy and I have the motivation, and things are going well for me."
So, why not keep going? Dragulescu's results have continued to be impressive including a fourth place finishes at the 2019 World Championships and 2020 Europeans on vault.
And even once Dragulescu does decide to retire, he may still find himself at gymnastics competitions. It'll be in a different capacity, as he'll be supporting his 14-year-old son, Richard, who competes in the sport.
"I wish for my son to be happy with what he does, and if this makes him happy, I'm happy, too," he told Tokyo 2020 of Richard's budding career. "I wish him the best results to have a wonderful career."
Will Richard Dragulescu follow the path of 2008 Olympic champion Nastia Liukin, whose dad competed at Seoul 1988? Only time will tell.
While there may be a perception that gymnasts can't compete into their 20s, 30s and - yes - 40s, Dragulescu, who turns 41 on December 18, won't be the oldest gymnast taking part in the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2021.
That honour will go to Uzbekistan's Oksana Chusovitina who will be 46 when competition begins later this year. Chusovitina has competed in every summer Olympics since 1992, winning team gold with the Unified Team in her Olympic debut.
"I start doing my YouTube videos because I enjoy it. It keeps me motivated in gymnastics. I had some good times and I filled my free time with those videos," he said.
And even though he's not making new videos right now - he has other projects taking up his time, he says - you can still head over to his channel and get a workout, learn about gymnastics or watch some of the gymnastics star's competitive routines.