Daniela Silivaş
Silivaş at the 1988 Olympic Games

Full name

Viorica Daniela Silivaş-Harper

Country represented

Flag of Romania Romania


May 9 1972 (1972-05-09) (age 45)
Deva, Transylvania, Romania

Years on National Team



Adrian Goreac
Bela and Marta Karolyi (former)

Current status


Viorica Daniela Silivaş-Harper (Romanian pronunciation: [daniˈela siliˈvaʃ]; born May 9, 1972), best known as Daniela Silivaş, is a Romanian gymnast who is most famous for winning six medals (three gold, two silver, and one bronze) in women's artistic gymnastics at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. In her five year tenure as a member of the Romanian senior national team, Silivaş earned six individual World Championships titles as well the 1987 European Championships all-around title. She was the only gymnast, male or female, to medal in every single event at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, where she earned 7 perfect 10.0 scores. In 1989, Silivaş's training was hampered by the closure of the Deva National Training Center during the Romanian Revolution and further impeded by a knee injury. She formally retired in 1991 and moved to the United States, where she currently enjoys a career as a gymnastics coach. In 2002 she was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. A popular gymnast, Silivaş was known for her pinpoint technical accuracy, effortless difficulty, charming performances and artistic flair.

Early life and career

Daniela Silivaş was born in Deva, Transylvania, on May 9, 1972. She began gymnastics at age 6 and was coached by the legendary Béla Károlyi for six months before his defection in 1981. Silivaş won her school's championships in 1980, and in 1981 and 1982, was the Romanian Junior National Champion. She continued to compete in various junior meets through 1984, enjoying a particularly strong showing at the 1984 Junior European Championships, where she won the balance beam title, earned silver medals on the uneven bars and floor exercise, and placed 4th in the all-around. The 1984 Junior Friendship Tournament (Druzhba) was another especially successful meet for Silivaş: she won gold medals in the all-around and uneven bars over a strong field that included future Olympic and World champions Svetlana Boguinskaya, Aurelia Dobre and Dagmar Kersten, among others.

Senior Career

Age Controversy

However, Silivaş did not linger for long in the junior ranks. In 1985, the Romanian Gymnastics Federation changed her birth year from 1972 to 1970 to make her age eligible for the World Championships in Montreal. The falsification was suspected by some, but was never fully verified until Silivaş herself revealed it in 2002. She stated that she was never consulted about the matter: officials simply gave her a new passport, called her attention to the birth date, and informed her that she was now fifteen.


Although she was only thirteen at the 1985 Worlds, Silivaş scored a perfect 10 en route to capturing the World balance beam title; defeating the reigning Olympic Champion, her fellow countrywoman, Ecaterina Szabo, in the process. She finished behind reigning co-World Champion Yelena Shushunova in the individual all-around at the 1986 World Cup and quickly established herself as the leader of the Romanian gymnastics team. Silivaş's greatest triumph took place at the 1987 European Gymnastics Championships in Moscow, where she won the individual all-around, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise titles in addition to taking a silver medal on the vault. At the time, every single dominant nation in women's gymnastics was located in Europe; winning the European title over the deep field of powerful Soviet, East German and Bulgarian gymnasts marked a major victory.

At the 1987 World Championships in Rotterdam, Silivaş helped the Romanian squad win the team title, defeating the nearly invincible world champion Soviet team for the first time since 1979. She was a favorite for the all-around title, but, hampered by low scores carried over from the team optionals, where she had stepped off the balance beam, as well as a shaky uneven bars routine in the all-around, she only managed to win the bronze medal behind teammate Aurelia Dobre and 1985 World Champion Shushunova. In the event finals, Silivaş did win two gold medals, on the uneven bars and the floor.

1988 Olympics

At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Silivaş, along with Dobre and Shushunova, was considered a heavy favorite for the all-around title. In the team competition, Romania finished second to the Soviet squad. The stage was set for the all-around, with a hotly anticipated battle between Silivaş, the technician and dancer; and Shushunova, the powerhouse and tumbler. Both gymnasts turned in especially strong performances. Both Silivaş and Shushunova received perfect 10.0 scores on floor; Shushunova received her second 10.0 on vault; Silivaş received hers on the uneven bars. Silivaş was in the lead entering the final rotation, but a score of 9.950 on the vault dropped her to second place behind Shushunova by only 0.025.

The all-around duel between Silivaş and Shushunova is widely acknowledged to have been one of the finest contests in the history of the sport, not to mention most hotly debated. In particular, Silivaş' score on vault came under scrutiny. Of the six judges on the panel, three marked her first vault as a perfect 10.0; two others gave her 9.9s. The Soviet judge on the panel Nellie Kim, however, only scored Silivaş at a 9.8. On her second vault attempt Silivaş took a hop on her landing; all six judges gave her 9.9s. Silivaş was visibly upset after Shushunova's scores were posted and at the medal ceremony; according to a report in International Gymnast, her comment on the competition was "after my last vault, I thought maybe I should be the champion." However, she did not argue the results publicly. Her former coach, Bela Károlyi, noted, "This kid had the honesty and decency to shut up. She didn’t want to say ‘I’m better’ because she knows Shushunova is the Olympic champion but she couldn’t praise a rival. So she just didn’t say a word. These kids have more decency than all the judges and coaches in the world."

In spite of the controversy, no score protests were ever filed by Silivaş, her coaches or her Federation, and no disciplinary measures were taken against any of the judges. In addition, even though Kim's first mark was considered questionable by many fans, it did not actually figure into Silivaş' final score: in 1988, the highest and lowest marks of the panel were dropped; the final score was the average of the remaining four marks. Also, in spite of her vault score, Silivaş' cumulative overall all-around total was actually higher than that of Shushunova: if the competition had been held under the New Life rule, she would have won.

Silivaş returned in the event finals to win gold medals on the uneven bars, floor and beam, well as bronze in the vault behind Soviet Svetlana Boguinskaya (gold) and teammate Gabriela Potorac (silver). In the process, she became the only gymnast in Seoul to win medals on every single event in all three competitions (team, all-around and event finals). She also equaled Nadia Comăneci's record of seven perfect 10.0 scores in a single Olympic competition.

Post Olympic Games and retirement

Despite being plagued with a serious knee injury in 1989, Silivaş was able to successfully defend her floor exercise title at the European Championships and won three additional medals. In the all-around, she placed second to Svetlana Boguinskaya. Still injured, she went to the Worlds in Stuttgart where she placed 12th in the all-around after falling from the balance beam. Undaunted, she returned in event finals to capture three more gold medals on the bars, beam and floor. After several more competitions in 1989, Silivaş underwent surgery on her knee and intended to return to the gym to train. The Romanian Revolution of 1989 closed the National Training Center at Deva, putting an early end to her career.

Medal Count

Year Event TF AA VT UB BB FX
1981Romanian Junior Nationals1st
1982Romanian Junior Nationals1st
1984Junior European Championships42nd1st2nd
Junior Friendship Tournament1st1st
Riga International2nd1st2nd2nd1st
Blume Memorial1st
1985DTB Cup5
Arthur Gander Memorial2nd
Romanian International1st
International Mixed Pairs3rd
Montreal World Championships2nd1st
1986Antibes International1st
DTB Cup1st
Romanian International1st
Beijing World Cup Final2nd3rd3rd2nd2nd
1987DTB Cup1st2nd3rd3rd1st
Arthur Gander Memorial2nd
Swiss Cup1st
Moscow European Championships1st2nd1st1st1st
Rotterdam World Championships1st3rd1st1st
1988 Seoul Olympic Games 2nd 2nd 3rd 1st 1st 1st
Chunichi Cup1st
DTB Cup1st
Romanian International1st
1989Brussels European Championships2nd2nd2nd1st
Stuttgart World Championships2nd121st1st1st
Blume Memorial1st
Chunichi Cup4
Romanian International1st

Floor Music

1985-1986 - "Turkey in the Straw"/"Cotton Eye Joe"

1987 - "Ochi Chernye"/"Dark Eyes"

1988 - "Macho Mozart" by the Latin Rascals

1989 - "Ciuleandra"

Olympic Uneven Bars Champions
Margit KorondiAgnes KeletiPolina AstakhovaVěra ČáslavskáKarin JanzNadia ComăneciMaxi GnauckMa Yanhong | Julianne McNamaraDaniela SilivaşLu LiSvetlana KhorkinaÉmilie Le PennecHe KexinAliya Mustafina

Olympic Balance Beam Champions
Nina BocharovaAgnes KeletiEva BosákováVěra ČáslavskáNatalia KuchinskayaOlga KorbutNadia ComăneciEcaterina Szabo | Simona PăucăDaniela SilivaşTatiana LysenkoShannon MillerLiu XuanCătălina PonorShawn JohnsonDeng LinlinSanne Wevers

Olympic Floor Exercise Champions
Agnes KeletiAgnes Keleti | Larisa LatyninaLarisa LatyninaVěra Čáslavská | Larisa PetrikOlga KorbutNellie KimNellie Kim | Nadia ComăneciEcaterina SzaboDaniela SilivaşLavinia MiloşoviciLilia PodkopayevaElena ZamolodchikovaCătălina PonorSandra IzbaşaAly RaismanSimone Biles

World Uneven Bars Champions
Vlasta Děkanová | Matylda Pálfyová • Anna Petersen | Gertchen Kolar • Agnes KeletiLarisa Latynina • Irina Pervushina • Natalia KuchinskayaKarin JanzAnnelore ZinkeMarcia FrederickMa YanhongMaxi GnauckGabriele FaehnrichDörte Thümmler | Daniela SilivaşDaniela Silivaş | Fan Di • Kim Gwang-SukLavinia MiloşoviciShannon MillerLuo LiSvetlana KhorkinaSvetlana Khorkina | Elena PiskunSvetlana KhorkinaCourtney KupetsChellsie Memmel | Hollie ViseNastia LiukinBeth TweddleKsenia SemenovaHe KexinBeth TweddleViktoria KomovaHuang HuidanYao JinnanFan Yilin | Viktoria Komova | Madison Kocian | Daria Spiridonova

World Balance Beam Champions
Vlasta DěkanováHelena RakoczyKeiko TanakaLarisa LatyninaEva BosákováNatalia KuchinskayaErika ZucholdNellie KimLudmilla TourischevaNadia ComăneciVera CernaMaxi GnauckOlga MostepanovaDaniela SilivaşAurelia DobreDaniela SilivaşSvetlana BoginskayaKim ZmeskalLavinia MiloşoviciShannon MillerMo HuilanDina KochetkovaGina GogeanLing JieAndreea RăducanAshley PostellFan YeNastia LiukinIryna KrasnianskaNastia LiukinDeng LinlinAna PorgrasSui LuAliya MustafinaSimone Biles

World Floor Exercise Champions
Matylda Pálfyová • Helena RakoczyTamara ManinaEva BosákováLarisa LatyninaNatalia KuchinskayaLudmilla TourischevaNellie Kim | Elena MukhinaEmilia EberleNatalia IlienkoEcaterina SzaboOksana OmelianchikDaniela Silivaş | Elena ShushunovaDaniela Silivaş | Svetlana BoginskayaCristina BontaşKim ZmeskalShannon MillerDina KochetkovaGina GogeanGina Gogean | Kui YuanyuanGina GogeanAndreea RăducanElena GómezDaiane Dos SantosAlicia SacramoneCheng FeiShawn JohnsonBeth TweddleLauren MitchellKsenia AfanasyevaSimone Biles

European All-Around Champions
Larisa Latynina • Natalia Kot • Larisa Latynina • Marjana Bilic • Věra ČáslavskáKarin JanzTamara Lazakovich | Ludmilla TourischevaLudmilla TourischevaNadia ComăneciMaxi GnauckOlga BicherovaElena ShushunovaDaniela SilivaşSvetlana BoginskayaTatiana GutsuGina GogeanLilia PodkopayevaSvetlana KhorkinaAlina KozichMarine DebauveVanessa FerrariKsenia SemenovaAnna DementyevaAliya MustafinaGiulia SteingruberEllie Downie

European Uneven Bars Champions
Larisa LatyninaPolina Astakhova • Thea Belmer • Věra ČáslavskáKarin JanzTamara LazakovichLudmilla TourischevaNadia ComăneciNadia Comăneci | Elena MukhinaElena MukhinaMaxi GnauckEcaterina SzaboElena Shushunova | Oksana OmelianchikDaniela SilivaşHenrietta ÓnodiSvetlana Boginskaya | Natalia Kalinina | Mirela PaşcaTatiana GutsuSvetlana KhorkinaSvetlana Khorkina | Simona Amânar | Lilia PodkopayevaSvetlana KhorkinaÉmilie Le PennecBeth TweddleDariya ZgobaKsenia SemenovaBeth TweddleViktoria KomovaAliya MustafinaBecky DownieDaria SpiridonovaBecky DownieNina Derwael

European Balance Beam Champions
Larisa LatyninaVěra ČáslavskáPolina Astakhova • Eva Rydell • Věra ČáslavskáKarin JanzTamara LazakovichLudmilla TourischevaNadia ComăneciElena MukhinaNatalia ShaposhnikovaMaxi GnauckLavinia AgacheOksana OmelianchikDaniela SilivaşGabriela Potorac | Olesya DudnikSvetlana BoginskayaGina GogeanRoza GaliyevaYevgeniya KuznetsovaSvetlana KhorkinaLudmila EzhovaCătălina PonorYulia LozhechkoKsenia SemenovaYana DemyanchukAmelia RaceaAnna DementyevaCătălina PonorLarisa IordacheMaria KharenkovaAndreea MunteanuAliya MustafinaCătălina Ponor

European Floor Exercise Champions
Larisa LatyninaPolina AstakhovaLarisa Latynina • Marjana Bilic • Věra ČáslavskáOlga KarasyovaLudmilla TourischevaNadia ComăneciMaria Filatova | Elena MukhinaNadia ComăneciMaxi GnauckLavinia AgacheElena ShushunovaDaniela SilivaşDaniela Silivaş | Svetlana BoginskayaLilia PodkopayevaLilia Podkopayeva | Lavinia MiloşoviciCorina UngureanuLudivine Furnon • Alona Kvasha • Cătălina PonorIsabelle SeverinoSandra IzbaşaVanessa FerrariSandra IzbaşaBeth TweddleSandra IzbaşaLarisa IordacheKsenia AfanasyevaLarisa Iordache | Vanessa FerrariKsenia AfanasyevaGiulia SteingruberAngelina Melnikova

Romanian National Champions
Elena Ceampelea • Anca Grigoraș • Nadia Comăneci • Cristina Itu • Emilia EberleLavinia AgacheEcaterina SzaboDaniela Silivaş | Ecaterina SzaboDaniela SilivaşCristina BontaşLavinia MiloşoviciSimona AmânarMaria OlaruSimona Amânar | Andreea RăducanSabina Cojocar | Silvia StroescuAura Andreea MunteanuCătălina PonorSandra IzbaşaSteliana NistorAna PorgrasLarisa Iordache

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