Gymnastics was first developed by the Ancient Greeks in Sparta and Athens. They used specific exercises that would help them mount their horses better. Historically, gymnast from Eastern European countries have shown much success in this sport. The most famous gymnast of them all being, the one and only, Nadia Comăneci. The Romanian gymnast was the first ever to score a perfect 10/10 at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. During the same Games, she earned six more perfect scores, which lead her to winning three Olympic Gold Medals!
Since then, gymnastics has proceeded to become a very competitive sport among both men and women. No doubt, the sport requires the competitor to possess great strength, agility, flexibility, and rhythm. Most competitive gymnastic events today are organized by The Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique or FIG. The organization was formed in Liege in 1881 and greatly added to the rise in popularity of the sport. By 1896, the sport had become so popular, that it was included in the first ever modern Olympic Games. Nowadays, every country has their own FIG governing body to manage their gymnastics teams. Television has greatly assisted in publicizing gymnastics and attracting a lot of attention to the sport. Countries which stand out for their competitive gymnastics and for their reigning gymnasts over their years include Japan, China, Russia and other Soviet Countries like Romania and of course, the USA.
Throughout the years, these countries have dominated gymnastics around the world, and have produced many top competitors who have brought home honorable wins for their countries. Although their coaches often use rather questionably difficult training tactics, the controversial arduousness has led to many Olympic gold medalists, which has kept their local FIG quiet. There is one Romanian gymnast in particular who stood out among the crowd of gymnasts during her time. Her name is Nadia Comăneci. She quickly became one of the most famous and beloved gymnasts of all time – for both good reasons and not so good. She is often credited as making gymnastics a popular sport among young girls around the world. Her story is quite different from your usual rise to fame story, as she had to overcome some pretty straining moments at such a young age.
Made In Romania
On November 12, 1961, a baby girl was born in a small town in the Carpathian Mountains called Onesti, Romania. Her name was Nadia Comăneci. She was born to Gheorge Comăneci, an auto mechanic who was born and raised in Romania. Her mother was Ştefania Comăneci. The family later added a second member to their family, a boy named Adrian. The family was a part of the Romanian Orthodox Church, as were many other families in Romania at the time.
Ştefania claims that because Nadia was difficult to manage as a child and full of energy, she enrolled her daughter in gymnastics from a young age to allow her daughter to release some of her energy.
She Knew Early On
Nadia began gymnastics as a kindergartner. She was part of her local gymnastics team called Flacăra, meaning “The Flame” in Romanian. She was coached by Duncan and Munteanu. It didn’t take long for Nadia to get obsessed with the sport and by age 6, she already knew that she wanted to pursue gymnastics for the rest of her life.
However, at such a young age and only after a few gymnastics lessons, she never could have expected the course that her life would one day take.
The Coach Who Took Her To The Next Level
When Nadia was 6-years-old, she was at school doing cartwheels with her friend during recess. That is when the famed Romanian gymnastic coach, Bela Károlyi spotted her. He and his wife were looking for young gymnastics potentials, whom they could train to eventually compete in worldwide events.
Bela immediately spotted something unique in Nadia, and after recess was over, he went looking through the classrooms, in search of the girl he’d seen turning perfect cartwheels. Finally, he found her and offered to train her. The friend that Nadia was doing cartwheels with, was Viorica Dumitru. She went on to become one of Romania’s top ballerinas.
Nadia agreed to start training with Bela and by the time she reached the age of seven, she was already training for 2-3 hours a day with him. She became one of the first students at the school in Onesti and because she lived right in the town, there was no need for her to commute, unlike some of the other gymnasts who came from far.
Bela was certainly impressed with the young girl’s hard work and commitment to the sport, but Nadia recalls that the hard work wasn’t always enough. During her earlier competitions, she would fall off the apparatus a lot, however, unlike other girls whom this may have discouraged, it only pushed Nadia to work harder.
Nadia Comăneci competed in her first official competition in 1969, when she was 7-years-old, at the Romanian National Junior Championship. She finished in 13th place. While the competition didn’t go as well as she had hoped, she wasn’t about to allow her disappointing performance to stop her. The gymnast pushed herself to train harder than ever, and the following year in 1970, she once again competed in the same competition, this time finishing first. She became the youngest gymnast ever to win the Romanian Nationals.
Finally, the country was beginning to notice that this little gymnast had fire in her. In 1971, she participated in her first international competition, a meet between Romania and Yugoslavia, where she won her first all-around title. By the time she was 12-years-old, Nadia was living at a state-run gymnastics school and training with Károlyi for 8 hours a day, 6 days a week... definitely not a schedule for the weak hearted.
Warm Up Competetion
Nadia continued to grow as a gymnast and take home more medals. By 1975, she was finally able to compete for senior level competitions and she entered the European Championships in Skien, Norway. This was her first major international success. Here she won the all-around title and gold medals on every event except for floor exercise, where she placed second.
It was her aspiration at the time to compete in the Montreal Olympics, so she decided to enter the American Cup as a warm-up. In Madison Square Garden in March of 1976, one male and one female competitor from each country took to the floor. Nadia won the competition, as she was getting used to doing by now.
Kiss For The Cameras!
When Nadia Comăneci mounted the winner’s stand to accept her award for silver, a photographer summoned her and the 18-year-old American standing next to her. “Kiss for the cameras, please!” he shouted, wanting a cute picture of the young, blonde American boy and tiny dark-haired Romanian girl.
That American boy was named Bart Conner, and he was more than happy to give Nadia a tiny kiss on the cheek. Both Nadia and Bart would be heading to the Olympics. They didn’t know it then, but their lives were about to become very entangled from that point on.
First Olympic Games
In 1976, the Montreal Olympic Games became the first Olympic competition that Nadia would enter. Nadia Comăneci was due to compete in several events in Montreal including both team and individual events.
The world didn’t know it at this time, but this young gymnast from a small town in Romania was about to make major history. She was going to do something that no other gymnast had ever done before.
On July 18, Nadia Comăneci made Olympic history, when she became the first gymnast ever to score a perfect 10. She was awarded the perfect score during a compulsory team section on the uneven bars. Initially, her score wasn’t clear because the scoreboard wasn’t configured to be able to show a 10. So, her score appeared as a 1.00, and the crowd was unsure of what was going on. However, when they fixed the malfunction, the audience, Nadia, and her coaches went absolutely crazy. She went on to snag six more perfect tens during the Montreal Olympics. Nadia was the first Romanian gymnast to win an all-around gold medal at the Olympics. She is also the youngest gymnast to ever win this title (now they've changed the age minimum of gymnasts at the Olympics so it's impossible to beat).
In an interview with ESPN, Nadia shared "It wasn't my goal to score a 10. Yes, gymnasts aim for perfection, but I never thought about the score. If that's what's in your mind, it will probably mess you up. I just remember trying to stay focused. It takes very little to break your concentration, and then you make mistakes." After this feat, Nadia took over the spotlight from Olga Korbut, the darling of the 1972 Munich Games. Comăneci’s achievements are on display in the entrance of Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.
Nadia’s Rise To Stardom
After being the first gymnast to ever score a 10 at the Olympics, Nadia Comăneci quickly rose to fame and got a lot of attention from the press, to the extent that she had her own theme song. The song was a part of the musical score from the 1971 film Bless the Beasts and Children, and it was originally called Cotton’s Dream.
However, when it was used on a feature piece for ABC’s Wide World of Sports after the Olympics, showing a montage of slo-mo videos and photos of Nadia, it immediately became associated with Nadia. The song became a top-10 single in the fall of 1976 and the composers renamed it “Nadia’s Theme” in her honor.
Sheltered From THe World
After making her Olympics debut, Nadia became the darling of the gymnastics world. In 1976, she won the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year as well as the Associated Press’ Female Athlete of the Year. Of course, she was receiving a lot of attention from publications and was featured on the cover of many big magazines. When she returned to her home country, her family received a brand new car and a one month vacation from the Romanian government. Nadia had become a star. She was also awarded the Sickle and Hammer Gold Medal for her success and was named a Hero of Socialist Labor, becoming the youngest Romanian to receive this recognition during Nicolae’s administration.
In an interview with Euronews, Nadia was asked whether she felt pressure as a young child being shot to fame "No I didn’t feel it at all because Romania was closed. If people were interested to come and find out more about me, they couldn’t easily come to the country to do that. So after I competed in games I would celebrate for two days and then went back to the gym. So I had no knowledge about what was happening outside."
Going Separate Ways
After the 1976 Olympics, it seemed like Nadia’s life was going perfectly. But, she was actually coming home to much strife. Her parents divorced, which of course deeply impacted the young gymnast and her family.
Things took a major turn for the worse when Romanian sports officials, for unknown reasons, decided that it would be best if Nadia trained with another coach. She had been working with Bela Károlyi since she was 6-years-old. The separation for both of them was heartbreaking. This happened around the same time that her parents split up and it seemed like Nadia’s life was quickly falling apart.
With life on the brink for the young athlete, Nadia felt like there was nowhere left to turn. So, in 1977, at the age of 15-years-old, the gymnast attempted to take her own life by drinking bleach. She ended up in the hospital for two days after, during which she commented that she was “glad because I didn’t have to go to the gym.”
Despite initially denying that she said this, she later confirmed it in an interview with Life magazine in 1990. Following her attempted suicide, the Romanian sports officials agreed to allow Bela Károlyi to become her coach once again.
The Bad Boy Phase
The trouble wasn’t all over for Nadia Comăneci, as is commonplace when you become a figure in the public eye. It was alleged that the gymnast was having an affair with Nicu Ceaușescu, the youngest son of Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu.
Nicu was known for being a bit of a playboy, who lost a lot of money by gambling around the world, and for being a bit oppressive. While the rumors were never confirmed, the once perfect image of the gymnast was crumbling.
Following the unfortunate turn of events in the gymnast’s personal life, it didn’t come as a shock when she didn’t give her best performance in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Although she still won two silvers and two golds, there was some serious fuss encompassing her scoring. Her coach, Károlyi, had an outburst, protesting that her scores weren’t fair.
His fuss was broadcasted on TV, causing members of the Romanian government to fall out of favor with the coach, believing that he had shamed the name of his country. Károlyi’s life was about to turn upside from that moment on.
Nadia Tours The U.S.A
The Romanian government, seeing the financial opportunities they could have in Nadia Comăneci, decided to host the ‘Nadia Tour.’ They notified the athlete that she would be touring in America. So. in 1981, young Nadia set off to tour over 11 cities in America.
The government made around $250,000 for the state from this clever marketing tactic while the star of the show made just $1,000 from traveling around America. Around this time things were about to fall apart between her coach and Romania.
Károlyi Seeks Asylum
Things were growing more tense between Nadia’s coach, Károlyi, and the Romanian government following the scene he made at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. He was going to have to leave the country, and fast. So, during the 1981 ‘Nadia Tour,’ Károlyi, his wife, and the Romanian team choreographer, Géza Pozsár, defected on the last day of the tour.
Prior to doing so, Károlyi hinted a few times to Nadia that he might try and do so and indirectly asked her if she had an interest in joining. She preferred to go home to Romania. They sought political asylum in the US, but the Károlyis had to temporarily leave their 7-year-old daughter, Andrea, with family members back in Romania until they were granted asylum. Nadia was absolutely heartbroken when she learned the news that her beloved coach had defected and left the country.
Prisoner Of Her Home Country
Romanian officials became concerned that Nadia would take off after her coach and also defect to the US. Because she was a valuable model as a communist athlete, they banned her from traveling to any Western country. The Western press had no access to her, and the Romanian government read her mail and tapped her phones. She was watched wherever she went and her activities were monitored. She was a prisoner of her home country, with no escape.
She later wrote in her memoir “Life took on a new bleakness. I was cut off from making the small amount of extra money that had really made a difference in my family's life. It was also insulting that a normal person in Romania had the chance to travel, whereas I could not ... when my gymnastics career was over, there was no longer any need to keep me happy. I was to do as I was instructed, just as I'd done my entire life ... If Bela hadn't defected, I would still have been watched, but his defection brought a spotlight on my life, and it was blinding. I started to feel like a prisoner.”
She thought that there was no way out, until 1987. Nadia met Constantin Panait who had escaped Romania some time ago – supposedly by swimming the Danube river. He made it to the U.S. and settled down in Florida where he became a roofer. He offered to help Nadia escape if she wanted.
Despite not really knowing Panait, she was desperate to escape the country. It was potentially a once in a lifetime opportunity to flee Romania for good and turn over a new leaf in the United States. Or so, she imagined in her dreams.
“You go and find a life”
Nadia was frightened that her mother would have a heart attack when she told her the news of what she was planning to do. At first, she confided in her younger brother who she refers to as her best friend. He told her “You go and find a life.” Nadia confesses that she was so scared she would never see her family again.
On the night that she was planning to escape, Nadia’s brother and sister-in-law came with her as near to the Hungarian border as was possible.
With five other Romanian defectors, Nadia made the dangerous walk in the ice-cold conditions and harsh weather, until they would reach the Hungarian border.
Nadia was reportedly stopped at the border by the Hungarian police who at once recognized the famous gymnast. However, out of pity, they let the gymnast through. They continued on to the Austrian border, where Panait met her before they went together to the US embassy and got a flight to New York City.
When Nadia finally reached America, her arrival generated some negative press and not everyone was in her favor. She was no longer the gymnast darling of the world. She was now a woman who was towering on high heels, with a heavy face of makeup, and a defector. Rumors of her relationship with the Romanian dictator’s son and that she’d left her home country were circulating.
The world certainly didn’t forget her. But, Nadia didn’t receive the warm welcome that she would have hoped for.
Nadia Comăneci wasn’t completely alone when she moved to the United States. In fact, there were several Romanians who had also defected to the US and befriended her. This included none other than her former gymnastics coach, Bela Karolyi.
Karolyi had attempted to reach out to Nadia multiple times after she touched down in the United States, but it turns out that Constantin Panait filtered out Nadia’s calls. Comăneci was completely unaware that people were trying to contact her.
There were several other people who wanted to get in touch with Comăneci as well, including the American boy she once received a kiss from, Bart Conner. He was very surprised to see that Comăneci was expected to appear on the Pat Sajak Show.
Conner knew Sajack’s producer and asked to be a surprise guest on the show. He also told the producer that Comăneci wasn’t in touch with any of her friends in the United States, and he believed something shady was going on. He was determined to get to the bottom of it.
Lost In Translation
It didn’t help Nadia that people thought she was in a relationship with the married Panait. The pair were known to stay in motels and hotels around the country together, and when interviewers asked Nadia about their relationship, Nadia stuck out her tongue and claimed, “It’s a secret.” Nadia later explains her answer as a language miscommunication. The world had no idea that Panait was actually holding the gymnast hostage. She confided in a close friend that Panait held her captive for 3 months.
She wrote in her memoir “Constantin had offered to help me defect, and I'd accepted. I assumed that his wife knew that he was going to help a handful of Romanians get out of the country and that I was one of them. But what people took from my answer was that I was a home-wrecker. Nothing could have been further from the truth. In hindsight, I understand that I'd made a very poor choice of words. Constantin had plans to become my personal manager upon our arrival in the United States. I didn't know that, but he promised to help me get settled, and I guess I just accepted his involvement in my future career as fair payment for the risks he'd taken. People died every day trying to defect.”
Freedom Is Priceless
When Nadia finally confided in her friend, Alexandru Stefu, that things weren’t as they appeared in her relationship with Panait and that he had control over her life, Stefu decided he had to intervene. So, he got Nadia and Constantin to come to a meeting where she confessed that he was mistreating her, in front of Panait. The next day, Constantin Panait escaped the country with $150,000 of Nadia’s cash and her car.
While he may have stolen her money, she finally won back her freedom, and that was most important. Nadia wrote of Panait "I never heard from him again, but I hope he is well and thank him for his help. I realize that our business relationship may have tarnished my name and image, but I safely escaped from Romania, and that is truly what was most important."
Fortunately for the close gymnastics community, Stefu offered Nadia to stay with him and his family. Sadly, not long after Nadia moved in, Stefu died tragically in a snorkeling accident and Nadia once again had to find where to go.
Paul Ziert, a friend of Bela Károlyi offered her a place to stay in Norman, Oklahoma. Paul was also the gymnastics coach of Bart Conner. Everything was starting to come full circle.
After he met her on the Pat Sajak show, Conner gave Comăneci his phone number. Although Comăneci was at first dubious of Conner’s intentions, she figured that Conner was just a nice guy. The two spoke on the phone every once in a while over the next year and a half until finally, Conner invited Comăneci to come to Oklahoma to open up a gymnastics school with him.
They had so much in common as far as their athletic background and the decipline required to be an olympic gymnast. It must have been comforting for Nadia. Maybe she finally met someone she could trust.
Years after their first naive kiss at the Olympics, Bart, and Nadia were reunited once again and sparks were flying. Bart recalls the first kiss they shared on the winner’s podium with Nadia. They performed together in several gymnastics competitions and looked inseparable.
It began with an innocent kiss, and now it grew into so much more. In 1994, just several years after they reconnected, Bart Conner proposed to Nadia Comăneci while the two were vacationing in Amsterdam.
In April 1996, Nadia and Bart tied the knot in Bucharest, Romania. Because the communist government had since been overthrown, Nadia had no reason to worry. In fact, the pair were treated much like royalty. The new Romanian government didn’t care about her defection years ago. Nadia and Bart were allowed to use the Parliament House for their wedding reception, which was an extremely luxurious celebration. According to Sports Illustrated, it was “the gymnastics world’s version of a royal wedding.”
Nadia commented about the event that “it was very emotional, not just seeing my mother, but seeing an entire country I'd left. When I got married in Bucharest, there were 10,000 people on the street. People didn't go to work that day. It was emotional to see how people care about you." The pair has now been married for 22-years, and they have a 12-year-old son named Dylan together.
Comăneci’s wedding seemed like a national holiday in Romania. Over 10,000 people came out in support of the couple, and people all over the country tuned in to watch the wedding ceremony, which was broadcasted live on national television. For Comăneci, it was very emotional being back in her home country.
She felt like she had betrayed her home country and she was feeling so bad about doing so. Now, seeing all of the support caused her to feel loved and forgiven.
Learn Gymnastics From The Best
Since they first reconnected, Bart and Nadia have been running the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy which was initially opened by Bart and Paul Ziert. Because it has two former Olympians as its head, the gym receives thousands of applications every year.
Bart and Nadia spent a lot of time promoting products and making commercial appearances all over the world. It’s safe to say that Nadia has resumed her position as the darling of the gymnastics world.
Similar History Sparks Friendship
In 2015, Nadia Comăneci walked onto the red carpet of the TriBeCa Film Festival with an unlikely friend by her side – actress Katie Holmes. The pair dressed almost identical to one another, both wore slim-fitting black pants, high heels, and black tops with their shiny brown hair down, showcasing their waves. They stood side-by-side, with quite the noticeable height difference and answered questions together about Katie’s first foray into directing Eternal Sunshine, a short which documents the Romanian expat's groundbreaking Olympic triumph in 1976 when she became the first gymnast to score a Perfect 10.
While many were surprised by the two being friends, if you look close enough, you’ll see they actually have quite a lot in common.
Nadia Shares Her Side Of The Story
You might wonder why Holmes chose Comaneci as the subject of her film. Maybe it has something to do with the parallels between their two stories. Both women became famous as teens and have that same sort of naive brunette beauty. It would even seem likely that Holmes, as a teenager, would play Comaneci in a movie about her. The similarities don't stop at their looks and the age at which they both became famous.
Beyond those superficial qualities, there are some deeper similarities. Most obvious, both have complicated histories with controlling men. Despite the film not being a big success, both of these young women are Eternal Princesses… And now, Nadia was finally able to share her side of the story to the world, difficult as it may have been.
Her One And Only
Nadia Comăneci has two men in her life. Her husband of course, and her son Dylan. Dylan was born in 2006 and Comăneci’s adores him. She spends a lot of time with her son and the hundreds of pictures of him on her phone can vouch for her fondness of him. She often shares pictures of him with reporters.
Comăneci had her son at a very late age, and for that reason, he’s an only child.
Oblivious To Her Huge Accomplishment
During the Montreal Olympics in 1976, one billion people were watching the young Nadia. Nadia had surpassed her main competitor, the Belarussian Olga Korbut, and was standing humbly on the winner’s podium. When reporters asked her how it felt to get gold and perfect 10’s, she replied that it was okay, as she had already received about 19 of them in other competitions.
Nadia later commented in an interview on what it was like to be such a young competitor at the Olympics "Actually, it was easy being young because you don't know. What you understand at 14 is different than what you understand at 20 years old. I had basically no pressure when I competed in '76, because I was 14 and a half, I only went to do my routines and I was just hoping to not mess up on beam or on bars. I came back from the Olympics, and when I got out of the plane, there were 10,000 people at the airport, and I didn't know why they came because I didn't think I had done anything different than I had done in the gym. So I didn't realize that, then."
Following the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the Romanian government wanted Comăneci to take a bit of a break from the sport. Around this time is also when Nadia started going through puberty and growing taller. Because she stopped training, she was no longer following a strict diet.
When her coach first saw her after not seeing her for some time, he exclaimed that she had turned into an “enormous monster.” Nadia sure showed him who was boss and she ended up winning several gold medals later that year.
In the 1980 Olympics in Moscow (when U.S. President Jimmy Carter refused to allow Americans to attend), Nadia once again competed. To Nadia’s disadvantage, the Russian put in their rowdy soldiers in the crowd to try and mess other athletes up.
When Comăneci performed her routine on the uneven bars, soldiers yelled at her “Fall Nadia Fall!” Comăneci, on her end, was so concentrated on the routine that she didn’t notice.
The Russians pulled all of their tricks out of the bag for their athletes in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. It was obvious to anyone who was watching what they were getting up to. At one point, the Russians hadn’t given Nadia her signal to start the routine until all the Russian athletes had already performed. And of course, the Russian athletes all received scores above a 9.5, with some of the athletes even receiving their scores a second after they stuck their landings.
So much for sportsmanship and fairness. No wonder her coach at the time, Károlyi, went berserk.
Nadia Comăneci and her husband run a whole bunch of gymnastics businesses together. One of which is called Grips etc. This company sells all sorts of gymnastics equipment like crashpads, practice bars, grip tape, chalk, and anything else related to the sport of gymnastics.
They even sell tape to re-grip your balance beam. Their items are very good quality so they aren’t the cheapest. Take the four foot by 12-foot long folding mat which sells for $225. You get what you pay for".
Comăneci Trains The Terminator
Nadia is well known in her gym in Los Angeles which sees many other famous actors and talents. She was in shock to discover that Arnold Schwarzenegger also trains in the same gym. Schwarzenegger, who competed as a famous bodybuilder before his political career, asked Nadia to be a personal trainer for that day.
The former governor and actor then shared their photo together on social media, saying: “It is fantastic to get to the gym early and have an Olympic champion as your trainer – thanks, Nadia Comaneci! 10 reps to honor the first perfect 10 score in the Olympics.” Respect!
Nadia met up with another fellow Olympian from the 1974 Montreal Olympics, who you may have heard of. Caitlyn Jenner (then Bruce). They both won gold medal winners at the 1976 Olympics, with Caitlyn winning gold in the decathlon. But, they didn’t meet face to face until 40 years later for their golden reunion.
Nadia shared what the two spoke about "We mostly talked about how we can't believe it's been 40 years since the Montreal Games and exchanged information so we can get together again," Nadia continued. "She was even taller as Caitlyn! I always wear big heels, but since she does now too, there is no way I will be able to come close to her height anymore!"
Production Company Owner
In 1998, Nadia Comăneci and her husband started running a production company out of their gym. The company works with major sports broadcasters such as ESPN and Fox Sports, broadcasting several gymnastics events around the United States and the world.
Many of the major gymnastics events on sports channels are produced by their company.
Successful Business Woman
Nadia Comăneci has a net worth of around $10 million dollars. And the money definitely isn’t from her selling her gold medals! She won't be so quick to sell those babies. She has earned a lot of money over the years through hard work and effort.
She and her husband Bart Conner run a very successful gymnastics center in the United States. They also own a production company together and their company that sells gymnastics equipment. It seems like they do it all.
Always Remembered As A Legend
Comăneci continues to be successful to this day because she never disappeared after the Olympics. Like Michael Phelps, she has remained active in the sport and the public limelight since she first won gold in Montreal in 1976.
Her constant exposure has made her one of the biggest names in gymnastics and has allowed her business to keep expanding and be profitable.
Many people want to know how Comăneci was able to become one of the best gymnasts ever. Well, like many other top athletes, Nadia is a very competitive person who always has the burning desire to win. She recalls being in a bicycle race when she was younger and all she wanted to do was win the competition.
Her mentality never changed, and this is what allowed her to be so successful in gymnasts. That, coupled with the right instruction, produced a winning gymnast.
She Will Forever Hold The Record
Nowadays, the current gymnastics scoring doesn’t allow for gymnasts to score a perfect 10, like Nadia was once able to. Comăneci says that this is a problem. Several changes have been made to scoring, and it is virtually impossible for a gymnast to get a perfect score.
So, it seems that Comăneci will always be remembered in the history books as the only gymnast to get a perfect 10.
Despite no longer being a competitive athlete, Nadia Comăneci maintains the diet of an athlete and eats very healthily. She manages to do so while living smack in the middle of Oklahoma, where healthy options aren’t as readily available. Nadia likes to eat toast for breakfast with some cheese and turkey, she drinks one coffee a day, has a healthy wrap for lunch and will eat a light dinner like fish and a big salad. She rarely eats meat and hasn’t touched french fries in almost 25 years. And the result? A super fit mom at age 57!
It’s no wonder that she is able to maintain such a fit physique.
HIIT To Keep Fit
Comănaci still works out a lot. She does physical exercise almost every single day. She even says that she does some gymnastics when there is nobody at the gym. She’s on the road a lot, but it’s still important for her to fit workouts in. It’s impressive that she’s able to maintain a workout routine despite her often hectic schedule.
She prefers to do quick, high-intensity workouts for no more than 30 minutes. Anybody can manage to fit this into their schedule.
Eat Like An Olympian
We all love a dish from our childhood, and Nadia unsurprisingly loves a Romanian dish called Salata de Vinete. It’s an eggplant dish made with onions, salt and pepper, olive oil, dill, and garlic. You roast the eggplant, take the meat out of its skin and stir the rest in the ingredients.
Sound similar to Baba Ganoush, minus the tahini. You can find the full recipe on the Food Network website and eat like an Olympic gold winner.
Back To Where She Made History
The Fig Artistic Gymnastics World Championship is the world championship competition in gymnastics. The competition was hosted in Montreal in 2017, just over four decades after the city hosted the 1976 Olympic Games. So, who was the best person to be the official spokesperson for the gymnastics world championships other than the first woman to ever score a perfect 10 in the same city? None other than Comănaci.
She came back to the city nearly forty years later. Here she is pictured alongside another Olympic Gold winner, Nastia Liukin.
Innovating The Sport
When someone does a move in gymnastics it is called an element. Comăneci was known for inventing so many different elements, several of which have been named after her. Some have since been banned from gymnastics routines.
When Nadia was asked how a gymnast invents a new element, she answered that no one goes into training and one day thinks “I’m going to create something new.” They invent new elements usually by mistake. But hey, it’s a good mistake!