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Aurelia Dobre emerged as a strong junior prospect in the mid-1980s, but not strong enough to be seen as a gymnast who would shake things up as soon as she turned senior. Dobre would do precisely that at the 1987 World Championships. Dobre led the Romanian team to an upset victory over the Soviets, took the AA title for herself, and won three more medals in event finals. If not for a lone fourth place finish, Dobre would have won a medal on every event. The result shocked the Soviets along with everyone else as they pondered how a gymnast could put up such a dominating performance in spite of having such little experience.
Dobre would be unable to repeat her success after being limited by an injury during the 1988 Olympics. Nor was she able to defend her title at the 1989 World Championships. The 1989 Romanian Revolution destabilized the Romanian gymnastics program and ushered veteran gymnasts like Dobre into retirement. But her 1987 performance at the World Championships is statistically one of the greatest performances of all time and is known as “The Ambush.”
Dobre currently lives in the United States and up until 2020 was running her own gymnastics club. The decision to close their club was perhaps spurred on by the massive success the entire family has been having in achieving a large online following. Her four sons have a YouTube Channel with 9.65 million subscribers and are known as “The Dobre Brothers.” Their channel frequently features appearances from “Mom.” As for Aurelia, her TikTok account currently sits at 5.7 million followers.
Olympics & World Championships:
Jr. Friendship Tournament (Druzhba): 2nd-Team, 6th-FX
Moscow News: 4th-AA, 5th-UB, 7th-FX
Riga International: 4th-AA, 7th-UB, 5th-BB, 5th-FX
Druzhba: 2nd-Team, 11th-AA, 3rd-BB
Jr. Balkan Championships: 1st-Team, 1st-AA
Jr. European Championships: 3rd-AA, 1st-VT, 1st-UB, 2nd-BB
World Championships 1st-Team, 1st-AA, 3rd-VT, 1st-BB, 3rd-FX
Chunichi Cup: 4th-AA
Tokyo Cup: 1st-UB, 1st-BB
Olympic Games: 2nd-Team
Chunichi Cup: 6th-AA
World Championships: 2nd-Team
Results are taken from Score for Score, The Gymternet, GymnasticGreats, My Meet Scores, Gymn-Forum, the official websites of various national gymnastics federations, newspaper clippings, classic gymnastics magazines, and in some cases, were provided by the gymnasts themselves. An explanation for the meaning of these symbols can be found here.