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Gymnastics East welcomes Olympic Gold Medal winning coach | Community sports news

Professor Nicolae Forminte at Gymnastics East in Bellevue, which is already home to a successful competitive program. Forminte will help develop and work to create a training for elite athletes with U.S. National Team potential.  - Josh Suman, Bellevue Reporter
Professor Nicolae Forminte at Gymnastics East in Bellevue, which is already home to a successful competitive program. Forminte will help develop and work to create a training for elite athletes with U.S. National Team potential.
— image credit: Josh Suman, Bellevue Reporter

For the Obeidat family, gymnastics is serious business.

So when the chance to bring a multiple-time Olympic medal winning coach to Bellevue and Gymnastics East, they jumped at it.

For the past several weeks, professor Nicolae Forminte has been training with their three children, and also beginning a project the Obeidat family hopes will form the base of an elite level training program at Gymnastics East.

"We are super excited to have him here," manager Kim Thompson said. "We've always been competitive, but there wasn't that elite level."

If there is anyone who can bring that, it is Forminte.

Along with a host of World Championship and European Championship medalists, Forminte has coached 16 Olympic medalists, including six Gold Medal winners as part of the Romanian National Team.

Since the early 1980s, when he earned his first postgraduate degree specializing in gymnastics, Forminte has dedicated his life to coaching.

His exploits as a junior and senior national team coach and lecturer have taken him from Deva in his native Romania to Bangladesh, Italy and finally, Gymnastics East.

"They want to do what is best for children," Forminte said of Gym East. "Every kid needs a chance to reach their capacity."

Keeping the area's potentially elite gymnasts from heading to World Olympic Gymnastics Academy in Texas or other training facilities with top coaches and training opportunities is one of the main goals for bringing Forminte to Bellevue.

While Gymnasitcs East has a strong foothold with its competitive and recreational programs, those with the potential to take their talents to the world's biggest stages have no option for continuing their careers around greater Seattle.

That is, until Forminte arrived.

The Obeidats tracked down Forminte through online research, utilizing their own background in gymnastics with their children to hone in on a man they considered supremely talented and ideally situated to help build the foundation of elite gymnastics in the region.

After making initial contact via email and phone calls, and connecting on video chats via Skype, the family travelled to Romania, where they remained after making an introduction with Forminte and had their children begin training.

"As soon as we emailed him initially, we were impressed," Arwa Obeidat said. "We had the feeling he knew what he was doing."

When they arrived in Romania, Obeidat said it was immediately apparent Forminte had not only a wealth of knowledge about everything gymnastics, but the ability to relate to his young students and connect with them on their level.

"He knows hot to break apart the skills and teach them in a way the kids can understand," Obeidat said. "He is a very warm personality and the kids are automatically attracted to him."

The family sponsored Forminte's O-1 Visa, and the total for his services was also covered by the Obeidats for first year of Forminte's training, with the hope he can develop an elite training niche at Gymnastics East and become the region's primary destination for top-level competitors.

"You have to have passion," Forminte said. "I'm here to help U.S. Gymnastics and it's a new opportunity."

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