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Whereas everyone knows the legend of Nadia Comaneci, Luminita Milea was there to personally witness it from the start. Like Nadia, Luminita was born in the small Romanian city of Onesti. The two had even been members of the same group in a kindergarten class. Both girls would eventually be selected for gymnastics. Luminita Milea would eventually rise to become a member of the 1976 Olympic team, albeit as an alternate and not a member of the starting lineup. Despite not being able to compete, Milea was able to watch in-person as Nadia made history by scoring the first Perfect-10.
Over the course of her career Luminita Milea took the unusual step of saving and time stamping all of her team photos. In the process she had inadvertently documented the rise of Romanian WAG and Nadia’s early years. On one occasion, I was able to find a previously unknown competition involving Elena Mukhina because Luminita Milea was there and had saved her copy of the official results. The name “Luminita Milea” can frequently be found in photo credits causing gymnerds to mistakenly assume it is the name of a photographer, when it was actually Romania’s Olympic alternate.
Even though being an Olympic alternate was the closest Milea ever came to competing in a major competition, the history of Romanian WAG would be incomplete without mentioning her. Milea was among the first batch of gymnasts to emerge out of the Onesti gymnastics hub. In the earliest days of Nadia’s career, Milea was always around. The first time Nadia ever gave a televised interview, in the background was Luminita Milea practicing her beam routine.
For more information: Milea was featured in Karen Louise Hollis’ book on Romanian gymnastics.
ROM-POL-Denver Tri Meet (Junior): 3rd-AA, 3rd-UB (T), 3rd-BB (T), 3rd-FX (T)
Druzhba: 5th-FX (T)
ROM-HUN Dual Meet (Junior): 3rd-VT, 2nd-FX
Dynamo Spartakiade: 3rd-AA
Balkan Championships: 5th-AA
1976 Moscow News: 10th-AA
Riga International: 7th-AA, 4th-UB, 6th-FX
ROM-NED Dual Meet: 6th-AA
Results are taken from Score for Score, The Gymternet, GymnastcGreats, Gymn-Forum, the official websites of various national gymnastics federations, newspaper clippings, classic gymnastics magazines, and in some cases, were provided by the gymnasts themselves. An explanation for the meaning of these symbols can be found here.