1988 Jr. Euros: 2nd BB, 4th AA, 6th UB
1988 Jr. Friendship Tournament: 2nd Team, 2nd BB
1989 Worlds: 2nd Team
1990 Romanian International: 1st Uneven Bars
1990 Arthur Gander Memorial: 5th AA
1991 World Sports Fair: 2nd All-Around
1991 Kosice International: 3rd AA
1991 USA vs Romania: 1st Team
1991 Worlds: 3rd Team
1991 Catania Cup: 1st AA
1992 Hungarian International: 2nd AA
Eugenia decided to try and make the 1992 Olympic team, and
she laid to rest all the talk about her being past her prime
and too old (at just 18!) by finishing second at the 1992
Hungarian international, behind Henrietta Onodi, and winning
the all around at the Romania-Belgium dual meet, ahead of
Gina Gogean. Eugenia was named the first alternate to the
Romanian team, and she traveled to Barcelona with her teammates.
She was very supportive of her teammates, and even the once
critical Octavian Belu told Gazeta Sporturilor that "all our
gymnasts contributed to this silver medal, including the alternates
who worked very hard to help us get ready (for this competition)."
Eugenia's father, who worked as a jeweler in Bucharest, came
to welcome her at the airport with two bronze medals he had
made. He gave them to Eugenia and Izabela because "they deserved
them just as much as the rest of the girls", he told Gazeta
Eugenia quietly retired after the Olympics and she went on
to study at the Ecological University in Bucharest, making
her one of the first gymnasts from the Romanian team who didn't
go to a Sports University.
A couple of years into her degree, she received an offer to
work in Ireland. She gave up her studies and moved to Northern
Ireland, where she worked as an assistant coach at Salto Gymnastics
club coaching Holly Murdoch, arguably the best gymnast to
come out of Northern Ireland. Popa accompanied Holly to the
1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia, serving as the assistant
coach for Northern Ireland's gymnastics team.
Most importantly though, Eugenia isn't just a coach who gets
great results, she is well-liked by her students. I asked
Holly about Eugenia and she described her as "a wonderful
and very supportive coach."
(February 20, 2000). In December 1999, Popa moved to California
to accept a new coaching position.
(March 9, 2000). Although only in California for a short time,
Popa apparently knew it was not for her. She returned to the
UK shortly after moving to the USA. She is now living in Birmingham,
(February3, 2001). In April 2000 Popa accepted a position
with the City of Birmingham Gymnastics Club. She works with
a young development group. Popa commutes to Birmingham each
working day, leaving approximately 30 minutes away on the
(March 27, 2001). Popa is engaged to be married! Her fiance
is from Northern Ireland. The wedding will take place this
summer, in Romania.
(tribute by Ioana Jadic)
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