Gheorghe Hagi (32 percent), Nadia Comaneci (16 percent) and Simona Halep (14 percent) are the top three athletes whom Romanians admire, according to a research report conducted by the Romanian Institute for Evaluation and Strategy (IRES), while the first four sports that Romanians prefer are soccer (35 percent), tennis (9 percent), artistic gymnastics (9 percent) and handball (8 percent). Gymnast Nadia Comaneci is considered to be the greatest Romanian athlete of all times (30 percent), followed in this survey by Gica Hagi (26 percent), Ilie Nastase (6 percent), Simona Halep (6 percent), Ivan Patzachin (3 percent), Nicolae Dobrin (3 percent), Ion Tiriac (3 percent). Helmuth Duckadam (1 percent), Iolanda Balas (1 percent), Gabriela Szabo (1 percent).
THE IRES STUDY
The evolution of Romanian athletes at the Olympics was considered good by 52 percent (42 percent good and 10 percent very good) and weak by 47 percent (32 percent weak and 15 percent very weak) of the respondents. Romanians anticipated that the Romanian delegation will finish at Rio on the 8th place in the medal standings, but in reality they ranked number 47. Only 15 percent of the respondents knew that the size of the Romanian delegation at the Olympic Games in Rio was between 81 and 100 athletes (96 plus 7 substitutes). The athletes that Romanians preferred in the Rio de Janeiro competitions were gymnast Marian Dragulescu (20 percent), gymnast Catalina Ponor (16 percent), tennis player Horia Tecau (7 percent), handball player Cristina Neagu (7 percent) and fencer Ana Maria Popescu (Branza) - 4 percent. Even though Simona Halep didn't attend this competition she is takes up the 6th place in this preference ranking.
Fencing (41 percent), rowing (28 percent), artistic gymnastics (20 percent), tennis (18 percent), handball (12 percent) and athletics (10 percent) were the sports that Romanians had the highest hopes to win. The Romanian sports state is regarded as poor by 48 percent of respondents and good by 46 percent. Most Romanians (54 percent) believe that the Romanian sports state is worse than 30 years ago and 25 percent see it better. The majority (60 percent) believe that the athletes from Olympic teams didn't have proper conditions to practice and 28 percent claim the conditions were suitable. In this practice conditions 60 percent consider the weak results are justified and 23 percent claim the contrary. Only 21 percent of Romanians practice a sport regularly, minimum once a week and only 7 percent of the respondents' children are currently practicing a sport. According to the IRES survey, 53 percent of Romanians followed the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, of which 80 percent on television, 5 percent on the internet and 4 percent on the radio. The most viewed games at the 2016 Olympic Games were gymnastics (36 percent), handball (17 percent), tennis (11 percent) and athletics (7 percent).
On an international level the athletes most appreciated by Romanians are Lionel Messi (23 percent), Cristiano Ronaldo (20 percent), Pele (4 percent), Diego Maradona (4 percent), Novak Djokovic (3 percent), Roger Federer (3 percent), Maria Sarapova (3 percent). IRES conducted this survey between 16-18 August 2016 on a sample of 1223 respondents.