Nadia Comaneci

Born Nov 12, 1961
Nationality Romania Romania

Nadia Comaneci is a former Romanian gymnast who shot to fame because of her successful Olympic bids in 1976 and again in 1980. She is also credited for having helped popularize gymnastics. Aside from that, Comaneci is the first gymnast in Olympic history to be awarded a perfect 10 score in gymnastics – an event that resulted in a TIME magazine cover proclaiming: “She’s Perfect”.

Comaneci was born in a communist Romania. She gained entry into gymnastics when she was chosen to attend Bela Karolyi’s gymnastic school. She trained with the Karolyi’s at the age of seven. In her first Romanian gymnastic event, she placed 13th and a year later, in 1970, she became the youngest athlete to win in the Romanian Nationals. Her first international competition was a meet between Romania and Yugoslavia. There she won her first all-round title.

The 1975 European championships were Comaneci first major international win. She nearly swept the competition. However, she fell behind soviet Nellie Kim. Kim would later prove to be one of Comaneci constant rivals.

In March of 1976, Comaneci received her first perfect 10 score when she competed in the American Cup at Madison Square Garden. Comaneci was one of the stars of the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. She was also one of the youngest competitors at age 14. Interest in her soared when she scored a perfect 10 on the uneven bars, it was a first for the modern Olympics. The scoreboards weren’t even equipped to do display a score of 10. As a result, her score appeared as 1.00. She holds the record for being the youngest Olympic gymnast all-around and with the changes in age allowance; no one can legally surpass her in that respect.

Her next Olympic gold medals were won in Moscow in 1980. She retired from the competition a year after that.

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