Long-time gymnastics official Nicolae Vieru, former president of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation, died Friday in Bucharest after a six-year battle with prostate cancer. He was 84.
For four decades, Vieru held leadership positions at the Romanian Gymnastics Federation and International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).
With more than 70 years in the sport, Vieru "dedicated his entire life to gymnastics and its people," judge and Olympian Anca Grigoraș said Friday.
Vieru was born April 21, 1932, in Buhuși, Bacau. He competed in gymnastics, winning the National School Championships in 1947 and the National University Championships in 1953. From 1962 to 1965 he was a professor of sport, specializing in gymnastics, and a coach at the CSS Triumf Bucharest club. Among his gymnasts were Olympians Anton Cadar, Gheorghe Condovici, Petre Miclăuş, Frederic Orendi, and Gheorghe Tohăneanu. He served as head coach of the Romania men's national team from 1965 to 1966.
From 1967 to 1983, Vieru was secretary-general of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation, and president of the federation from 1987 to 2005. During this time he oversaw Romania's transformation from a relative outsider into one of the pre-eminent powers in the sport of gymnastics for both women and men.
From 1976 to 2008, he was a vice president of the FIG and member of the FIG Executive Committee. From 1991 to 1998, he was a vice president of the Romanian Olympic Committee. He remained an honorary president of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation.
Starting in 1962, he participated as a coach, judge or official at 11 Olympic Games, 42 World Championships, 34 European Championships and 32 FIG Congresses.
He retired in 2008 and was elected an honorary vice president of the FIG. "Nicolae Vieru is not just a person but an institution at the International Gymnastics Federation," FIG President Bruno Grandi said at the time.
In 2015, he published his memoir, Calatorie in lumea gimnasticii (Journey into the World of Gymnastics).
Vieru is survived by a son, Stefan, and granddaughter, Catinca. His wife passed away last year.
"A great man – we will miss you, dear Nicolae Vieru," Romanian legend Nadia Comaneci said Friday. "God rest his soul."