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a candle for my son!

Nadia Comaneci
Olympic Laureate Gymnast


Born on November 12, 1961, Onesti (former official name, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej). Parents: Gheorghe and Stefania-Alexandrina Comaneci. One brother, Adrian, born 1967

Married to the American gymnast Bart Conner in a civil ceremony in Romania, on April 26, 1996, followed by a church wedding the next day

Education & Career

1964 - Starts Kindergarten at age three.

First introduction to gymnastics in school by Marcel Duncan

1967 - joined a newly formed gym club, "The Flame", coaches Marta Karolyi and Valeriu Munteanu

1969 - accepted in the new Gymnastics High School, coached by Marta Karolyi, assisted by husband, Bela

1970 - competed in her first national competition, as a member of the Onesti team. The Onesti team won, despite falling three times during her beam routine (7.25)

1971 and 1972 - wins junior national all-around title

1971 - wins the all-around (38.50) in her first international competition, Ljubljana, Yugoslavia

October 1974 - participates, with teammate Teodora Ungureanu, in an exhibition in France. Soviet star and Nadia's idol, Ludmilla Tourisheva, is also present, but Nadia and Teodora steal the show

January 1975 - becomes eligible to compete at the senior level

May, 1975 - wins the all-around in the European Championship, in Skien, Norway, beating Ludmilla Tourisheva and the 16-year-old Soviet rising star, Nelli Kim. Takes gold for Beam, Bars and Vault, as well as silver for floor

March 1976 - wins the first American Cup competition, held in New York City. Scores two 10's (Vault and Floor). Winner of the men's competition is her future husband, American Bart Conner.

XXI Olympiad, Montreal, Canada

July 18, 1976 - scores the first ever 10.00 (Bars) in Olympic competition, at the team compulsory exercises

July 19, 1976 - scores 10.00 (2) on Beam, and Bars (3), Romania capture the silver medal, at the team optional exercises

July 21, 1976 - the all-around; starting on Bars, scores 10.00 (4), then Beam (5). Takes the gold

July 23, 1976 - the individual finals: scores 10.00 (6) on Bars, for a perfect maximum score of 20.00 Ditto for Beam, 10.00 (7) for a max of 20.00. Places third on Floor, set to "Yes Sir, That's My Baby"  and finishes fourth on Vault. Medal take is three gold, one silver, and one bronze.

Awarded the gold medal of "Hero of Socialist Labor", Bucharest, Romania

Post Olympics up to 1979 European Championship

September 1976 - an American TV crew, along with comedian Flip Wilson, arrives in Onesti to film a one hour special on Nadia, which premiered on CBS in November

December 1976 - competes in the Chunichi Cup, in Japan. Uses the same routines from Montreal. Already shows signs of growth and slight weight gain. Scores two 10.00's (Bars and Floor)

1977 - European Championship, Prague, Czechoslovakia: successfully defends All-Around title. During the individual round, ties with Elena Mukhina (USSR) for the Bars. In vault, following a protest by the Soviets over scoring, Nelli Kim is awarded the gold over Nadia. The Romanian team leaves in protest, is disqualified from the individual competition, and Nadia must return her gold from the Bars.

Fall, 1977 - the Romanian team tours Mexico and US. Nadia's body growth and weight gains are more apparent, but still pleases the crowd. During the Romanian vs. US competition, Nadia wins comfortably.

Later, 1977 - Bela Karolyi is removed as Nadia's coach and transferred. Nadia is put under the direction of Gheorghe Condovici, Iosif Hidi, and Antanasia.

1978 - hospitalized for poisoning after drinking some bleach; exact details and motive (if any) remain a mystery. Several stories, attributed to Nadia by various sources and rumors, abound.

November, 1978 - The World Championships, Strasbourg, France. Estimated four inches taller, and twenty pounds heavier. Tied for second going into the Bars, falls to the floor, and out of the all-around medal race......after the pressure of the all-around passes, has a brief come-back during the individual beam competition and takes gold.

1978 - the Romanian Nationals: Nadia does not compete and Emilia Eberle becomes the new National Champion.

1979 - Bela is rejoined by Nadia.

Competitive Comeback through Moscow Olympics

1979 - the European Championships; biggest comeback in gymnastics history; takes the all-around gold for the third straight time.

December, 1979 - World Championships, Ft. Worth, Texas: frail looking and boney; many fear her drive to trim down has gone too far.....recouping from an illness and nursing an infected and swelling left wrist, is forced to withdraw from the competition after the team finals. Romania took the gold.

Summer, 1980 - The 22nd Olympiad, Moscow: loses the all-around by the slightest of margins, after a 27 minute heated debate by judges results in gold to Yelena Davydova (USSR)......wins two gold medals in the individual finals (Beam and Floor), and a silver for Vault.

So, Career Olympic medal take is five gold, three silver and one bronze.


Early 1981 - Romanian team tours US again. After final show, Bela and Marta Karolyi decide to stay in the United States (defect).

Later 1981 - competes in her last major competition, the World University Games, held in Romania and takes all five gold medals.

1984 - at age 22, officially retires from competition; attends Los Angeles Olympics as VIP guest of head organizer, Peter Uberoth.

November 1989 - flees to Hungary, with help from Constantin Panait, whom she paid $5000. Then on to the American Embassy in Vienna, Austria, where she is granted asylum and arrives in the United States on December 1. Panait maintains control of Nadia's life. Rumors of abuse abound. Today, Nadia speaks little of this time.

1990-91 - resides in Canada with Alexandru Stefu (Romanian rugby coach) and wife; gets back into shape, joins some gymnastics exhibitions, reacquaints herself with Bart Conner. 

1991 - Alexandru Stefu dies in freak drowning incident. Bart Conner, who had become a close phone pal with Nadia, invites her to live in Norman, Oklahoma, where he owns a gymnastics academy.

November 12, 1994 - 33rd birthday, Bart proposes at the Amsteel International Hotel, in Amsterdam.

November 1994 - makes her first visit back to Romania, taking Bart with her. Nadia's father consents to Bart's request for Nadia's hand in marriage.

1999 - finishes the millennium with a host of awards and citations as one of the great female athletes of the century.


  • Private: Bart Conner Drive, 3206 Norman, Oklahoma, USA, Tel./Fax: +1-405-447.6222


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