Valeria Răcilă van Groningen is a Romanian competition rower and Olympic champion.
Valeria Răcilă van Groningen is a Romanian competition rower and Olympic champion. She received a gold medal in single sculls at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, a bronze medal in double sculls at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow and won many other national and international titles throughout her career.
Mrs. van Groningen was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer a couple questions for the WORLD Magazine.
WM: How did you start your sportingcareer? What influenced you?
VVG: I did athletics in high school, I was selected for rowing in 1977 through alarge scale selection program throughout the country. Although people thought I was too skinny for rowing at first, Iproved them wrong and within oneyear I was participating in the world championships in New Zealand. I wasinspired by Mitana Botez, one of the topathletes at my rowing club in Arad and Iwanted to become the best in the world.
WM: Why is it important to encourage a sporting culture from a young age?
VVG: First of all, sport is very importantfor the development of children. It is important for learning how to work together in a team, to be focused, to learn from mistakes, and to be determined to achieve their goals. Another important factor is to learn to cope with failure, nobody wins 100% of the time, not even the very best ofathletes. You have to learn to lose. Thesethings are not learned easily outside of sports.
WM: What do you think about the CEESA tournaments that promotecompetition and cultural diffusion?
VVG: I have attended many CEESAtournaments to see my childrenparticipate. I think its very important that AISB encourages children to do sports from a young age. It’s a wonderfulexperience to get out of your comfort zone and travel to other international schools and participate in tournaments.
I think it helps children to develop theirsportsmanship and especially team work.
WM: What is your opinion about the sports education cultivated at AISB?
VVG: In my opinion the sports culture at school was good. My children participated in most of the tournamentsfrom 6th grade to 12th grade. Especiallyin Romania where schools and sports clubs lack the infrastructure, students have a wide variety of opportunities to choose a sport and compete.
WM: What is your sports philosophy at home? How has this played in the education of your sons?
VVG: My husband and I have alwaysparticipated in sport events, even today at the age of 57.
We run marathons, my husband hasparticipated in two Ironman events. We find it important to have a healthy lifestyle, and I am happy our childrenfollowed this philosophy.
Our sons do sports on a regular basis,and Sijmen was selected for the Dutchnational rowing team for the world championships under 23 for the second year in a row.
WM: What sporting activities are closest to your heart?
VVG: Rowing, running and tennis. Rowingbecause I have achieved my best resultsand met my husband in international competitions when we were young.
Running because it was the first sport I practiced in high school. And today Itry to encourage people to run throughorganizing the Bucharest InternationalMarathon and half marathon to have a healthy lifestyle.
Tennis I like it because it was a sport I learned later in life and I enjoy playing it.
WM: Why is important to be involved in your community?
VVG: It is always important to givesomething back to the community whereyou take part in. I was involved in PTO,(the Parent Teacher Organization).
It is nice to see first hand what theparents and the school can mean for the children at events. Now throughorganizing the marathon, I work with tenNGO’s to raise money for their charitable activities. Giving to the community is always a rewarding feeling.
WM: How would you like to see the Alumni Association involved with the school and the community?
VVG: The alumni association is a nicething for any school. Its nice for thecurrent students to be able to talk to former students about their experiencesafter high school. How the school hasshaped them to become who they are today, and to give advice on life after highschool in general. I am not aware of manyof the activities of the Alumni Association,however I am sure you have many nice events!
Read the entire WORLD Magazine Summer 2014 edition here.