Who is Nadia Comăneci, the first Olympic 10 in history?

Roxana Anton

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Nadia Comăneci at the 1977 European Championships in PragueComitetul Olimpic si Sportiv Roman/Public domain

In my home country România (Eastern Europe), Nadia Comăneci is still a legend.

Today she is a nice sixty years old-lady from Oklahoma, taking care of humanitarian causes, business projects, gymnastics schools, together with her beloved husband, Bart Conner. (bartconnergymnastics.com)

Since biopics - biographical films - are very much in vogue, we expect a film about Nadia, considered by many among the XXth Century's best gymnasts (even the best), and one of the greatest athletes in history. Her story from Communist România is also interesting to narrate.

Nadia made history at the 1976 Olympics, in Montreal.

History was being written by a 14 years-old, unknown girl. She turned the competition into a child's smile, as it was later written.

The Romanian Nadia Comăneci gave a performance that received the first Olympic 10 since the world invented gymnastics (on that occasion, she earned six additional "10s". She won gold medals for the individual all-around, the balance beam, and uneven bars, a bronze for the floor exercise and a silver as part of the team all-around - Wikipedia)

The 10 in the scoreboard was not foreseen, it was thought that no one could even reach such perfection. Nadia was the first gymnast in the world to do it.

The song used to accompany her floor exercises was retitled “Nadia’s Theme" (it became the theme for the popular soap opera "The Young and the Restless"). It was an international hit, and earned a Grammy Award in 1977. (britannica.com)

Being born poor in a communist Romania, the athlete is the living proof that you can start from zero and reach glory. (Vanity fair. it)

"When you are 14 years old, everything is different. These are small emotions, like for instance being the best in school" said Nadia, in one of her interviews.

Born in 1961 in Onești, a small 40.000 inhabitants town from the Moldova region in today's România (not to be confused with the country Moldova), Nadia was given the name of "hope" - "Nadejdea", the main character in a movie.
Other sources claimed for a while that she had Hungarian origins (as the Hungarian community is a strong presence in Romania), being born as „Anna Kemenes”. Nadia and her mother denied it, in 2016. (Wikipedia, the web)

Onești was the excellence center for Communist România's gymnastics. Nadia, being a resident, started to train with coach Bela Karoli when she was only 6.

She and her colleagues had extremely harsh treatment and training (there are rumors that they were allowed to only eat two oranges a day).

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Teodora Ungureanu, Béla Károlyi and Nadia ComăneciComitetul Olimpic si Sportiv Roman/ Public domain

At 18, Nadia's career was already full of glory.

Being forced to become the mistress of the dictator's son and suffer beatings and mistreatment, Nadia attempted suicide, (Vanity fair) but in 1989 managed to emigrate, right before the Revolution that put an end to the regime.

In the US, she married an Olympic gymnast, Bart Conner.

Nadia is very committed to social issues and has struggled to rebuild her link with her native land.

She does charity and supports young gymnasts from both US and România.

At 60, Nadia remains a splendid person, with an amazing body routine, splendid character, and smile. A true survivor and a winner.

She often posts on her Instagram profile.

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