Biography: COMANECI, Nadia

COMANECI, Nadia

Inducted: International GHOF, 2006 Honored Guest & Significant Contributor to U.S. Woman’s Gymnastics Born: November 12, 1961 Onesti, Moldova, Romania

 

Getting Started: Nadia begin kindergarten at age three and was first introduced to gymnastics in school by Marcel Duncan. Shortly thereafter she caught the attention of Bela and Marta Korolyi who became her coaches. Between 1971 and 1974, Nadia competed in a host of Romanian Category and Junior championships and dual meets at the Jr. and Sr. levels. The Romanian team won team gold most of the time, and Nadia contributed a lion’s share of team points. In 1975, she won five gold and one silver medal in the Romanian Championships and two gold, two silver, and one bronze medal in the Romanian Pre Olympic Trials. It was time to let the world know about this talented young lady, and the Montreal games was a great place to begin. Olympic Games: Gold-AA, UB, & BB; Silver-Team & FX. During the Montreal games, Nadia introduced the world to the perfect 10: July 18, 1976-Perfect 10 (UB) during team compulsory exercises; July 19, 1976-Perfect 10 on BB & UB; July 21-Perfect 10 on UB & BB, Montreal, Canada, (1976). Gold-BB & FX, Silver-V, Moscow, USSR, (1980).  European Championships: Gold-AA, V, UB, BB & FX, (1975); Gold-AA & UB(T)*, Prague, Czechoslovakia. *Following a protest by the Soviets over scoring, Nelli Kim is awarded the gold over Nadia. The Romanian team left in protest and was disqualified from the individual competition. Nadia had to return her gold from the UB.  Gold-AA, Copenhagen, Denmark, (1979). Nadia is the first gymnast to take the AA gold for the third straight time, and the achievement is called the greatest comeback in gymnastics history. American Cup: Gold-AA, New York, NY, (1976). The winner of the men’s competition is Bart Conner, her future husband. World Championships: Gold-BB, Silver-Team & V, Strausbourg, France, (1978); Gold-Team but Nadia is forced to withdraw due to illness and an infected and swelling left wrist, Ft.Worth, Texas, USA, (1979); Gold-AA, & UB, Silver-V, (1977); Gold-AA, V, FX, Bronze-BB, (1979). Chunichi Cup: Gold-AA, (1976); World Cup: Gold-V & FX, Silver-BB, (1979). The arrival of TV to the gymnastic venue in 1972 could not have been at a better time since it was the Olympics that featured the charismatic smile of Olga Korbut. TV stayed and Nadia continued to amaze world audiences. Credit for succinctly summarizing Nadia’s major achievements:

Nadia Comaneci (ROMANIA)

1976 Olympic AA Champion

1975-1977-1979 European AA Champion

1978 World BB Champion

1980 Olympic BB & FX Champion

Career Medal Totals

Olympic Games: 5 Gold, 3 Silver, 1 Bronze.

World Championships: 2 Gold, 2 Silver.

World Cup: 2 Gold, 1 Silver.

European Championships: 9 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze.

In the Fall of 1977, the Romanian team toured Mexico and the U.S., and Nadia is growing into a woman now with increased height and weight, but she remains a crowd pleaser. In head-to-head competition with the U.S. team, Nadia wins easily. Bela Karolyi is removed as Nadia’s coach, and Nadia is put under the direction of Gheorghe Condovici, Iosif Hidi, and Antanasia.  In 1981, Nadia competed in her last major competition, the World University Games in Romania and takes all five gold medals. The same year Bela and Marta Karolyi defect to the U.S. after a final exhibition in the U.S. In 1984, at age 22, she officially retires from competition and attends the Los Angeles Olympics as VIP of head organizer, Peter Uberoth. Later, she became an international judge and coach of the Romanian national team, but she is not allowed to leave Romania. In November 1989, Nadia went to Hungary, then on to the American Embassy in Vienna, Austria, where she is granted asylum and arrives in the U.S. on December 1st. She resided in Canada for a short while and began to get back into shape while getting reacquainted with Bart Conner. On November 12th, Nadia’s 33rd birthday, Bart proposes at the Amsteel International Hotel in Amsterdam. Nadia makes her way to Romania taking Bart with her. Nadia’s father gives his blessing to the marriage. They were married in a civil ceremony in Romania on April 26, 1996, followed by what has been termed a “lavish” church wedding the next day. Nadia finished the century with numerous awards and citations and was considered to be “ . . . one of the great female athletes of the (21st) century.” Today, Nadia and Bart own a gymnastics club in Norman, OK, are editors of International Gymnast magazine and are involved in numerous charitable organizations. They are expecting their first child in July 2006. Family: (m) Bart Conner. Children: Dylan Paul, born 1996.

Sources: Information drawn from several web sites and courteously verified by Bart and Nadia. Their website is ., Others you may visit for additional information are , , , , , & . & IGHOF Newsletter, April 2006.  Introduction, commentary, and formatting by Dr. Larry Banner, 1993 HOF Inductee.