November 12, 1961
Born in: Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, Romania
Career: Professional gymnast
Nadia Comaneci is a Romanian professional gymnast who holds the record of winning a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnast event. She has also won five Olympic gold medals for her country. She is a very well known personality around the world, and is also known for popularizing gymnastics all around the world. Apart from the various medals, she has also won many awards in her professional career.
Nadia Comaneci was born on November 12, 1961 in Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, in Romania. Her parents were Gheorghe and Stefania-Alexandrina. It is interesting to note how she got her name, Nadia. While her mother was pregnant, she was watching a Russian film in which the name of the heroine was Nadya and hence she decided to name her daughter Nadia. She also has a younger brother, whose name is Adrian. She started gymnastics when she was in kindergarten, with a team called Flame which was a local team. Her coaches, at that time were Duncan and Munteanu. She was just 6 years old when she was chosen to attend Bela Karolyi's gymnastic school.
This happened, after he spotted her and another friend of hers turning cartwheels in her schoolyard. Till the time she was 7 years old, she trained under Karolysis. Nadia was one of the very first students of the gymnastic school that was set up by Bela and his wife Marta.
It was in 1969, when she tasted success for the first time. She stood 13th in her first ever Romanian National Championships. Later, in 1970, she competed for her hometown team and also became the youngest gymnast to win the Romanian Nationals Championships. It was during 1971 that she participated in her first ever international gymnastic competition, which was a dual junior meet between Yugoslavia and Romania. She went on to win the all-round title and won a gold medal for the same.
At just 11 years old, she won the all-round gold, as well as other vault and uneven bars title at the Junior Tournament level. However, her first major win came when she was 13 years old. She stood top at almost all the events except for the floor exercise, almost taking the 1975 European Title. She continued her prime form in the subsequent meets in the same year, winning various Championships.
She also had the pride of participating in the inaugural event of the American Cup at Madison Square Garden in New York, in the year 1976. It was here that she created a record when she scored perfect 10.0, which meant that she had received a perfect score from the judges without any sort of deductions, on vault in both the preliminary and the final rounds of the competition. She received the perfect score of 10.0 not only here, but in other meets in 1976, which included the Chunichi Cup competition in Japan.
She was just 14 years of age when she participated in the Summer Olympics, held at Montreal. Here too, she scored a perfect 10 on the uneven bars and was the first ever gymnast in the Olympic gymnastic history who had done so. Even the score-cards at the event were not able to display the score of 10.0 correctly, instead showing up as 1.0.
Because of her immense success during the Olympics, she garnered lots of media attention as well. It was during this time that the theme song from the soap opera "The Young and the Restless" was associated with her. This happened after ABC media used it as a background theme for showing her montages. She was also declared the 1976 Sports Personality of the Year in the overseas athletes’ category and the Associated Press's 1976 Female Athlete of the Year.
During the year 1977, she successfully kept her title but it was when some kinds of doubts were raised against her and her team, the Romanian gymnasts had to return to their country. Subsequently, her coach was also removed and dealing with the stress of her parents' divorce already, she was very unhappy about the whole situation. As a result her fitness levels fell down and she became overweight and out of shape. It was in the 1978 World Championship, that she fell while performing at the uneven bars and stood 4th in an all-around Championship.
Not the one to give up, she returned in 1979, and she was much fitter and slimmer this time around. She went on to win her third consecutive European title and became the first ever gymnast in the history to do so.
She also participated in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow where she stood second. Her team also finished second, overall. She retired from gymnastics in the year 1981. The official retirement ceremony of Nadia took place in 1984, at Bucharest which was attended by the Chairman of the International Olympic Committee.
After her retirement, she started working in Romania. Between 1984 and 1989, she was the member of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation. During this time, she also helped the coaches of the Romanian junior gymnasts as well.
Bart Conner, whom Nadia had met for the first time in 1976 during the American Cup, invited her to move to Oklahoma City, in U.S. Subsequently, they got engaged in 1994, and married on April 27, 1996. She became a citizen of the United States on June 29, 2001. However, she has also retained her Romanian passport, which means she holds a dual citizenship. Dylan Paul Conner, their first child was born on July 3, 2006 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
1969 Thirteenth place Romanian National Junior Championships
1970-71 First place Romanian National Junior Championship
1971 First place all-around, vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise, Cup of the Romanian Gymnastic Federation
1972 First place team and all-around, Romanian National Junior Championship
1972 First place team, Cup of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation
1973 First place all-around, vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise, International Championships of Romania
1973 First place team and all-around, Romanian Senior Championships
1974 First place team and all-around, Romania-Poland-USA Junior TriMeet
1975 First place all-around, vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise, European Championships
1975 First place team, all-around, vault, uneven bars, balance beam, floor exercise, Romanian Championships
1976 First place all-around, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise, second place team, Olympic Games
1976 Named Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year
1977 First place all-around and uneven bars, European Championships
1977 First place team and all-around, Balkan Championships
1977 First place all-around, International Championship of Romania
1977 First place all-around, Orleans International
1978 First place bars, second place vault and team, World Championships
1979 First place all-around, vault, and floor exercise, third place balance beam, European Championships
1979 First place all-around, International Championship of Romania
1979 First place team, World Championships
1979 First place vault and floor exercise, second place balance beam, World Cup
1979 First place team, all-around, vault, and uneven bars, second place floor exercise, Balkan Championships
1980 First place uneven bars, International Championship of Romania
1980 First place bars and floor exercise, second place team and all-around, Olympic Games
1981 First place team, all-around, vault, uneven bars, and balance beam, University Games
1984 Received Olympic Order Award
1991 Inducted into Sudafed International Women's Sports Hall of Fame
1993 Inducted into International Gymnastics Hall of Fame
1996 Named Honorary President of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation
1996 Honored in Atlanta's Opening Ceremonies as an Unforgettable Olympian
1998 Received Flo Hyman Award celebrating National Girls and Women in Sport Day
2001 Named Sportswoman of the Century, World Sports Awards