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Nadia Comaneci
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Nadia Comaneci

Nadia Elena Comaneci (born November 12, 1961 in Gheorghe Gheorghiu-dej [now Oneşti;]) is a Romanian gymnast, a winner of five Olympic medals and the first to be awarded a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event. Voted as one of the greatest athletes in the 20th Century world wide and in Olympics history. Also regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time. Recently awarded a second Olympic Order.

Short Bio:

As a 13-year-old, Comaneci's first major success was at the 1975 European Championships, winning 4 titles. She was coached by Bela Karolyi and his wife Martha, who would later defect to the United States and become coaches of many great American gymnasts.

At age 14, Nadia became the star of the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Quebec. Not only did she become the first gymnast at the Olympics to receive the perfect score of ten (which she repeated 6 more times), she also won three gold medals (individual all-around, balance beam and uneven bars), a silver medal (team all-around) and a bronze (floor exercise).

After winning the world team championships with Romania at the 1979 World Championships, Nadia spent time in the hospital for blood poisoning in her wrist as a result of a cut from her metal grip buckle. When she returned at the 1980 Summer Olympics, she was in top shape. She placed second in the all-around to Yelena Davydova after having to wait to receive her last mark until after Davydova had completed her routine. Nadia retained her Olympic title in the balance beam, tied for the gold medal in the floor exercise, and the Romanian team finish second.

Nadia retired from competition shortly after these Games. She briefly helped coach the Romanian junior gymnasts. In November of 1989, Nadia defected to the United States. She spent most of her time touring and promoting lines of gymnastics apparel, Jockey underwear, aerobic equipment, and even modelled wedding dresses. In 1994, she was engaged to US gymnast Bart Conner and returned to Romania for the first time since her defection. Nadia and Bart were married in Romania in April of 1996.

In 1999, Nadia became the first athlete to be invited to speak at the United Nations to launch the Year 2000 International Year of Volunteers. Nadia is currently busy with gymnastics and charity around the world. She and her husband owned the 1,000 students Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy, the International Gymnast Magazine, The Perfect 10 Production Company and 4 sports equipment shops.

Nadia is now the Vice-Chair of the Board Of Director of International Special Olympics, the Honorary President of Romanian Gymnastics Federation, The Honorary President of Romanian Olympics Committee, The Ambassador Of Sports Of Romania, the Vice President of the Board of Director of Muscular Dystrophy Association, Member of International Gymnastics Federation Foundation,etc..

In December 2003, Nadia released her first written book titled "Letters To A Young Gymnast". Nadia is now starting a Nadia Comaneci Children's Clinic in Bucharest, a charity clinic to help Orphanage and children in Romania.

Long Bio, courtesy of http://www.nadiacomaneci.com

Personal stats...

- Born: Nadia Elena Comaneci
- Date: November 12, 1961
- Born in Onesti (official name, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej), Romania.
- Named after "Nadezhda" (the heroine of a Russian film), which means "Hope".
- Parents: Gheorghe and Stefania-Alexandrina Comaneci
- One brother, Adrian, born 1967.

Kindergarten up to 1976 Olympics...

- Starts Kindergarten at age three.
- 1st introduction to gymnastics in school by Marcel Duncan Joined a newly formed gym club, "The Flame," in 1967; coaches are Marta Karolyi and Valeriu Munteanu.
- Accepted in the new Gymnastics High School in 1969.
- Coached by Marta Karolyi, assisted by husband, Bela.
- Competed in her first national competition in 1970, as a member of the Onesti team. The Onesti team won, despite falling three times during her beam routine (7.25), a major turning point in her attitude towards the sport.
- 1971 and 1972, wins jr. national all-around title.
- 1971, wins the all-around (38.50) in her first international competition, Ljubljana, Yugoslavia.
- October 1974, with teammate Teodora Ungureanu, participate in an exhibition in France. Soviet Union star, and Nadia's idol, Ludmilla Tourisheva, is present. Nadia and Teodora steal the show.
- Becomes eligible to compete at the senior level in January, 1975.
- May, 1975, wins the all-around in the European Championship, in Skien, Norway, beating Ludmilla Tourisheva and 16-year-old Soviet rising star, Nelli Kim. Nadia takes gold for Beam, Bars, and Vault, and silver for floor.
- 1975 Associated Press Athlete of the Year.
- March 1976, win the first American Cup competition, held in New York City. Scores two 10's (Vault and Floor), Winner of the men's competition is her future husband, American Bart Conner.

XXI Olympiad, Montreal, Canada

- July 18; the team compulsory exercises; scores the first ever 10.00 (Bars) in Olympic competition.
- July 19; the team optional exercises; scores 10.00 (2) on Beam, and Bars (3), Romania capture the silver medal. July 21; the all-around; starting on Bars, scores 10.00 (4), then Beam (5). Nadia takes the gold.
- July 23; the individual finals; scores 10.00 (6) on Bars, for a perfect maximum score of 20.00 Ditto for Beam, 10.00 (7) for a max of 20.00. Places third on Floor, set to, "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" (not "Nadia's Theme" as some get confused). Finishes fourth on Vault. Medal take is three gold, one silver, and one bronze.

Post Olympics up to 1979 European Championship 

- Awarded the gold medal of a Hero of the Socialist Party, the youngest Romanian to do so.
- September 1976, an American TV crew, along with comedian Flip Wilson, arrive in Onesti to film a one hour special on Nadia, which premiered on CBS in November.
- December 1976, competes in the Chunichi Cup, in Japan. Uses the same routines from Montreal; already shows signs of growth and slight weight gain; scores two 10.00's (Bars and Floor).
- 1977, Nadia's parents divorce
- 1977 European Championship, Prague, Czechoslovakia; successfully defends All-Around title. During the individual round, ties with Elena Mukhina (USSR) for the Bars. In vault, following a protest by the Soviets over scoring, Nelli Kim is awarded the gold over Nadia. The Romanian team leaves in protest, is disqualified from the individual competition, and Nadia must return her gold from the Bars.
- Fall, 1977, the Romanian team tours Mexico and US; During the Romanian vs. US competition, Nadia wins comfortably.
- Later, 1977; Bela Karolyi is removed as Nadia's coach and transferred. Nadia is put under the direction of Gheorghe Condovici, Iosif Hidi, and Antanasia.
- 1978, hospitalized for poisoning after drinking some bleach; exact details, and motive (if any) remain a mystery. Several stories, attributed to Nadia by various sources and rumors, abound.
- November, 1978; The World Championships, Strasbourg, France; estimated four inches taller, and twenty pounds heavier. Tied for second going into the Bars, falls to the floor, and out of the all-around medal race. After the pressure of the all-around passes, has a brief come-back during the individual beam competition; takes gold.
- 1978; the Romanian Nationals; Nadia does not compete, sits in the stands as a spectator. Emilia Eberle becomes the new National Champion.
- 1979; Bela is rejoined by Nadia. Different stories tell who did what, and why.

Competitive Comeback through Moscow Olympics 

- 1979, the European Championships; biggest comeback in gymnastics history; takes the all-around gold for the third straight time.
- December, 1979; World Championships, Ft. Worth, Texas; frail looking and boney; many fear her drive to trim down has gone too far...recouping from an illness and nursing an infected and swelling left wrist, is forced to withdraw from the competition after the team finals. Romania took the gold.
- Summer, 1980; The 22nd Olympiad; Moscow; loses the all-around by the slightest of margins, after a 27 minute heated debate by judges results in gold to Yelena Davydova (USSR)...wins two golds in the individual finals (Beam and Floor), and a silver for Vault. Career Olympic medal take is five gold, three silver, and one bronze.

1981 - 2000 

- Early 1981, Romanian team tours US again. After final show, Bela and Marta Karolyi decide to stay in the United States (defect).
- Later 1981; competes in her last major competition, the World University Games, held in Romania; takes all five gold medals.
- 1984; age 22, officially retires from competition; attends Los Angeles Olympics as VIP guest of head organizer, Peter Uberoth.
- 1984; graduates Institute of Physical Education and Sports in Bucharest.
- 1984-89; work for Romanian Gymnastics Federation and coaches Jr. National team.
- November 1989; flees to Hungary, then on to the American Embassy in Vienna, Austria, where she is granted asylum in the United States; arrives December 1.
- Fled Romania with help from Constantin Panait, whom she paid $5000. Panait maintains control of Nadia's life. Rumors of abuse abound. Today, Nadia speaks little of this time.
- 1990-91; resides in Canada with Alexandru Stefu (Romanian rugby coach) and wife; gets back into shape, joins some gymnastics exhibitions, acquaints herself with Bart Conner.
- 1991; Alexandru Stefu dies in a drowning incident. Bart Conner, who had become a close phone pal with Nadia, invites her to live in Norman, Oklahoma, where he owns a gymnastics academy.
- November 12, 1994; 33rd birthday, Bart proposes at the Amsteel International Hotel, in Amsterdam.
- November 1994; makes her first visit back to Romania, taking Bart with her. Nadia's father consents to Bart's request for Nadia's hand in marriage.
- April 26, 1996; married in a Civil Ceremony in Romania, followed by a church wedding the next day.
- 1999; finishes the millennium with a host of awards and citations as one of the great female athletes of the century.
- December 2000, spokes person for UN to launch the International Year of Volunteers