Boy, are they strong
Barry C Chung
Romanian brothers Giuliano and Claudio Stroe look like your typical European youngsters. Dressed in shorts, matching Iron Man shirts and running shoes, you might even say they look cute.
Yet in reality they are two tenacious kids who are anything but typical. The talented gymnasts are capable of extraordinary feats of physical strength, endurance and balance. And they've managed to achieve such physical prowess even before they've popped their first spot or had their first shave.
Giuliano, eight - older by two years and slightly taller - is the proud holder of one Guinness World Record and several other world records. 'Giuliano has the record for walking on his hands while holding a ball on his feet,' says the boys' father, Iulian Stroe, a former child gymnast. 'He walked 10metres in 24.37 seconds.'
Yet the most stunning thing is the boy set the record aged only four. His other world record efforts have yet to be certified by Guinness judges, which, Stroe says, is more a financial matter, rather than anything to do with his son's ability.
'To get a Guinness record, you need to pay about Euro5,000 (about HK$48,350) to get it officially certified,' Stroe says. 'That's on top of travel, hotel and food [costs]. That's the main difference between a world record and a Guinness record. I'm happy with what he's done; the [certificate] doesn't really matter to me.'
Claudio has no records, but he's well on his way to matching Giuliano's physical achievements. He started gymnastics at the age of 18months, and performs most of the same exercises as Giuliano, but with fewer repetitions. 'When Claudio just turned three, he was able to do one 90-degree push-up,' Stroe says. 'Giuliano was not able to do it until he was four.'
Stroe first took his sons to the gym when they were toddlers. He and his wife have four children, who were all born one after the other. Hoping to give her some time to relax while pregnant, Stroe took their other children to the nearby gym with him. The boys quickly showed a great talent for exercises.
The brothers have a strict regime: they typically wake up at 7am, have breakfast, then use the home gym. They work on a specific theme each day, which changes over time. Stroe says gymnastics forms the bulk of their training, with weightlifting comprising only a small part. 'They don't really do a lot of weights,' he says. 'It's kind of the last thing they do - just for show.'
Yet he admits that the boys enjoy lifting weights most of all. Stroe also downplays questions about pressures put on the children. He brushes off such suggestions and says they enjoy it very much and are too young to feel pressure. They enjoy training and he does not force them in any way, he says. Nor would he force them to continue if they chose to give up, although he believes they will never want to stop because gymnastics is 'in their blood'.
Asked why a child would train so hard, Giuliano replies - practically his only words over the entire interview - 'Champion. Champion gymnast!'
For the brothers, actions speak louder than words.
Giuliano and Claudio Stroe will perform at Landmark North today (3pm), East Point City tomorrow (1pm) and Mikiki on Monday (6pm)