What to do…?

After visiting the enormous, almost abandoned citadel at Rupea earlier today (picture below), we arrived in Brașov this afternoon. It’s a beautiful place, but when we arrived at our rental apartment in the historic centre there was a little black cat behind a nailed-closed wooden shutter on the floor below us, reaching out to us with both paws.

We didn’t think much of it, but every time we came past the cat was still there. And then when the sun set, and the mail still wasn’t collected from that doorstep, and no lights came on there, I went back down to investigate.

From what my rudimentary Romanian reading skills told me, the letters were all “final notice” electricty-type bills, and the last two were dated the 10th of September (it’s the 17th here).

The cat is trapped, and is STARVING, and even more desperate for water. It can’t meow anymore. We took some sliced ham and a bottle of water down and got as much to it as we could (which wasn’t much through the shutters).

Two young Romanian men in a car stopped and came to help, but nobody here speaks English, and even though my family is Ukrainian, the two countries (they’re neighbours) only have about two words in common in their languages.

I let one of the guys into the courtyard and he knocked on the apartment’s door and talked to the neighbours and tucked a note into the door, and the other mentioned calling the police – because what if the cat’s owner is hurt or dead in there? However, when she heard the word “police”, the maniac neighbour lady came out and yelled at all of us and shooed the men away.

I guess I’ll try and feed the cat for the next few days, and then get our apartment’s owner to help when we leave? If the cat’s owner has been missing over a week…?? I can’t just leave it…

Maybe we’re overreacting. Anyway, here are some pictures:

The ENORMOUS, tourist-free citadel in Rupea:

Brașov’s old town, complete with a Hollywood-style sign on the hill above:

There are stray cats everywhere. They’re gorgeous, and most people in restaurants etc. feed them:

Who would have thought Aly Raisman would emerge an Olympic star?!

I kind of did, actually. I can’t believe nobody noticed she existed until she – you know – beat World Champions at every turn and became an Olympic Champion. I knew she had it in her!

(Completely irrelevant, but is she getting prettier every day, or am I imagining things?!)

A big yay to USA’s Aly Raisman for going home from the Olympics with two gold medals and a bronze. Raisman, the gymnast people have been writing off for a couple of years, and who apparently “stole” a spot from a teammate. Good thing, that, as it turns out she’s better at winning medals than the others!

I do prefer more balletic gymnastics, but Aly’s Floor routine was unbelievable, and you could see her pushing herself to complete those split leaps, and grab every last execution point. So happy for her, and also for Cătălina Ponor and Aliya Mustafina. Not everything went the way I wanted, but I’m pretty satisfied.

Floor Medallists


If last night’s Uneven Bars final was the best ever, tonight’s Beam had to be the worst.

Poor Deng Linlin pulled out a fantastic routine, only to have it overshadowed by her teammate’s temper tantrum over winning silver. The (Chinese) telecast I saw showed her pulling off her silver medal no less than three times from the medal podium through the photo shoots, and then trying her best to run away from reporters.

She put her teammate – who did outperform her – in a position where she felt like she couldn’t celebrate.

Beam Medallists

And then there was the fact another score was contested, taking the bronze medal off Cătălina Ponor and handing it to Aly Raisman. I’m not going to get into whether or not that should have happened, as I’ve been a Ponor fan since back in 2003, and so probably biased. But I’m happy for Aly.

The rest of the beam final was characterised by crash and fall and fall and wobble. Not a very solid final for most! Viktoria Komova just gave up. You get to the Olympics and you give up, fall, then give up and fall again? I know this wasn’t the Olympic experience she wanted, but two silver medals is nothing to be ashamed of.

And poor two-time gold medallist Gabby Douglas seemed to just run out of steam over the last two days. Oh well. Two golds? Not too shabby!

And congratulations to the men. Couldn’t be happier with the results from their two finals tonight!

A special mention has to go to Channel Nine, for the worst Olympic coverage ever. Australian gymnast Lauren Mitchell has been hyped and hyped, and then they didn’t even show her final – choosing instead to show us Australia losing a water polo semi-final. They then showed us Lauren’s routine, and only Lauren’s, later and pretended it was live.

But as I’d already seen it on Chinese television I knew better. Hell, they couldn’t even bother showing their beloved (and boring) cycling live. Yet they pretended that was too.

The commentary is stellar too. The dickhead here said American Aly was Romanian, and that the Chinese gymnasts won all the floor medals (there weren’t even any Chinese gymnasts there!).

USA Wins Gold!

Yay!! Go USA!!

I am so happy for the US gymnasts. Has there ever been a more deserving team?

Seeing Aly Raisman burst into tears before she even finished her routine – knowing she was Olympic Champion – that was amazing!

While my heart breaks for second-place Russia, I think their reaction was completely over the top. They weren’t going to win, even if they hit their routines. My family is from that part of the world, and I’m embarrassed for how they acted. But I can’t believe they made those stupid mistakes. I haven’t seen anyone miss a roundoff since Level Two at about age seven!

But yay for Romania too! So happy they got a medal. This is exactly the result I wanted.

I do have to feel sorry for China though. Especially as I was watching the Chinese telecast, and they interviewed every Chinese gymnast after the competition, and they were all in tears. At one point the reporter stopped the interview to give one of the girls a hug because she couldn’t stop crying. Sad.

However, it was a much better competition than the men the night before.

Olympic gymnastics so far

Phew, what craziness the Men’s Gymnastics was. Japan’s Kōhei Uchimura – considered to be the greatest gymnast in history – fell, hopped and made uncharacteristic mistake after uncharacteristic mistake. The entire Chinese team – performing in the qualifying session before Japan – counted mistake after mistake.

The British men were so amazingly excellent nobody knew what to say! The US men came out in the lead, both as a team, and with the top and fourth-ranked All Around gymnasts.

And – yay! – Australia’s Joshua Jefferis is through to the All Around final. I’m so happy for him!

Joshua Jefferis

Now for the women…

Turns out World Champion McKayla Maroney of the USA has a broken toe, which would be why she skipped two training sessions over the last few days! She’ll only do Vault tonight.

McKayla Maroney

It now appears that injured Women’s All Around favourite Larisa Iordache of Romania will be competing tonight. Phew!

I have two things I desperately want from the women tonight, but I bet I jinx them.

Firstly, I want Lauren Mitchell to qualify for at least on apparatus final. She has one gold and two silver World Championship medals, and is Australia’s first real Olympic medal possibility. But she is nursing some injuries too.

Oksana Chusovitina

Secondly, I want Oksana Chusovitina to qualify for the Vault final. Chusovitina now competes for Germany, but she won her first World title for the Soviet Union, and her first Olympic title for the CIS. That she is still competing decades later – in a sport that’s traditionally for little girls – is truly incredible. But Vault is an unforgiving event.

Injured Olympic Gymnasts

I knew this was going to happen!

This whole week leading up to the Olympics, and there was no news from the gymnasts. We’re going to hear someone is injured, I thought.

And yes, more than one someone is injured!

My favourite for the All Around gold medal – Romania’s Larisa Iordache – has hurt her foot. And she might compete in half of the events. She won’t be competing the two events she would have challenged for gold in: All Around and Floor. She had a starting score so high all she had to do was hit her routines on the day and she would have won gold. Not now.

I’m so disappointed.

China’s Yao Jinnan (who came third at the World Championships last year) has her thigh bandaged. America’s Anna Li has torn a ligament in her neck, is in a neck brace and has been sent back to the US. So – in this day and age, where gymnastics is all about who can survive without needing a knee reconstruction – the Olympic Games will be about who managed to stay out of the emergency room, rather than who deserves to win.

Larisa winning floor at the European Championships only weeks ago.