Romanian gymnastics great Nadia Comaneci became the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 in an Olympics gymnastics event in 1976 at the tender age of 14. She achieved this feat at the Summer Olympics in Montreal. She eventually went onto receive six more perfect 10s in Montreal as well as three gold medals. Nadia Comaneci’s name is synonymous to gymnastics and people who don’t even know much about the game have heard about her. Recently she was in India as Times of India Guest Sports Editor and mentor of the second edition of TOISA. Nadia Comaneci has won a total of nine Olympic medals and four World Championship medals during her career. She is the most well-known gymnast ever and is credited in making the sport popular around the world. She was born in Romania but lives in United States of America.
Nadia Comaneci’s feat was such that in 1976 the scoreboards were not designed to display a 10 thus she received a score that read ‘1.0’. Dipa Karmakar and Simone Biles are the new generation gymnasts who amazed one and all at the Rio Olympics but it was Nadia Comaneci who made gymnastics a popular sport round the world because of her extraordinary feat and achievements. We all have heard her name but very few know the unknown facts and trivia about the great athlete.
Here are 8 facts to know about Nadia Comaneci
1.First Olympic Gymnast to score a perfect 10.0
Nadia Comaneci became the first gymnast in Olympic history to be awarded the perfect score of 10.0 at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
2.Named after a Russian heroine Nadya
Nadia Comaneci was named after a Russian heroine called Nadya. Her mother Stefania-Alexandrina watched a Russian movie whose heroine was called Nadya when she was pregnant with Comaneci. Nadia meand ‘hope’
3.Nadia Comaneci has a degree in Sports Education
Nadia Comaneci has a degree in Sports Education from Politehnica University of Bucharest that qualifies her to be a coach for gymnastics.
4.Youngest Gymnast to win Romanian Nationals
In 1970 at the age of 9, Nadia Comaneci became the youngest gymnast ever to win the Romanian Nationals.
5.Youngest ever Olympic gymnastics all-round champion
Nadia Comaneci at the age of 14 dominated the world of gymnastics with her perfect routine and floor exercises. She holds the record of being the youngest Olympic gymnastics all-around champion ever. She still holds the record and since now the age-eligibility restriction requires a gymnast to be at least 16 it not possible to break her record. She was also the first Romanian gymnast to win the Olympic all-round title.
6.In 1989 defected to USA
Nadia Comaneci was born in Romania and represented the country in gymnastics. But her life had become oppressive under the repressive regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu. After the defection of her coaches Béla and Marta Károlyi, she herself defected to United States of America in 1989 where she still resides.
7.Olympic Gold Medalist as husband
Nadia Comaneci married American gymnast Bart Conner in 1996 in Bucharest, Romania. Bart Conner won two Gold Medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. They run a gymnastics academy together. Nadia Comaneci holds dual citizenship of both Romania and USA.
8.Olympic Order twice
Nadia Comaneci is the only athlete to receive the Olympic Order twice. She was first awarded in 1984 making her the youngest recipient and then again in 2004 making her the only one to receive the highest order given by IOC twice. In 2000 she was named as one of the Athletes of the Century by the Laureus World Sports Academy.
Watch the video of Nadia Comaneci’s perfect 10 at Montreal Olympics
Nadia Comaneci is a living legend. Basic Books has included her 2004 memoir, Letters to a Young Gymnast as a part of the YA Art of Mentoring series. Katie Holmes directed a short 2015 documentary for ESPN entitled Eternal Princess that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.