Biography of Gymnast Nadia Comaneci

The First Perfect 10.0 Gymnast in Olympic Gymnastics History

Future legend Nadia Comaneci practices on the beam as a 13 year-old girl. Hulton Deutsch/Corbis via Getty Images)

Nadia Comaneci is perhaps the most famous gymnast to have ever competed in the sport. She took the 1976 Olympics by storm, winning the all-around (at age 14), and earning the first 10.0 in Olympic history.

Her Gymnastics Accomplishments

  • Comaneci was the first gymnast to score a perfect 10.0 in the Olympics. She did it at the 1976 Games and then went on to score six more 10.0s and win three gold medals.
  • Comaneci was also the first Romanian gymnast to win the all-around title at the Olympics and is the youngest ever all-around champion. Fourteen-year-olds are no longer allowed to compete at the Games due to current age restrictions, so it's likely that her record will never be touched.
  • In 1979, Comaneci became the first gymnast to win three all-around titles at the European Championships.
  • At the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Comaneci won her second Olympic gold medal on beam and took home another gold on floor and a silver medal in the all-around. She is the last Olympic all-around champion to have returned to the Games four years later.

Cool Skills She Performed

Nadia Comaneci has two moves named after her on the uneven bars. One is a toe-on, half-turn to a back flip dismount (at 0:30) while the other is a release move (a cast to straddle front flip at 0:13) that is still rated at a high difficulty level today.

(It is an “E” on an A-G scale with “A” the easiest.)

Personal Life

Born November 12, 1961, in Onesti, Romania, to parents Gheorghe and Stephania Comaneci, Nadia Comaneci started gymnastics at age six. She was coached by the controversial duo of Bela and Martha Karolyi, and retired from the sport at age 20, in 1981.

Comaneci defected to the United States in 1989 and now lives in Norman, Okla., with her husband,1984 Olympic gymnast Bart Conner. They have a son Dylan Paul Conner, who was born June 3, 2006.

She and Conner are owners of the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy and are also involved with International Gymnast magazine, Perfect 10 Productions, Inc. (television production) and Grips, Etc. (gymnastics supplies) Comaneci also supports the Nadia Comaneci Gymnastics School in her hometown of Onesti, Romania.

Gymnastics Results and Record

  • 1981 University Games: 1st team; 1st all-around; 1st vault; 1st bars; 1st beam
  • 1980 Olympic Games: 2nd team; 2nd all-around; 1st beam; 1st floor
  • 1979 World Championships: 1st team
  • 1979 European Championships: 1st all-around; 1st vault; 3rd beam; 1st floor
  • 1978 World Championships: 2nd team; 2nd vault; 1st beam
  • 1977 European Championships: 1st all-around; 3rd vault; 1st bars
  • 1976 Olympic Games: 2nd team; 1st all-around; 1st bars; 1st beam; 3rd floor
  • 1976 American Cup: 1st all-around
  • 1976 Chunichi Cup: 1st all-around
  • 1975 European Championships: 1st all-around; 1st vault; 1st bars; 1st beam; 2nd floor

Awards

Comaneci was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1993, and has twice (1984, 2004) received the Olympic Order, the most prestigious award given by the International Olympic Committee.

In 1999, ABC News and Ladies Home Journal named her as one of the ​"100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century."