Nadia Comaneci

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For decades she was the most famous gymnast the sport had ever produced. Nadia Comaneci became a sensation at the 1976 Olympics when she became the first gymnast to score a Perfect 10 and did it a total of seven times at those games. Equally as impressive was the young age in which she achieved international fame. As a 13 year old Nadia took the gymnastics world by storm when she resoundingly defeated the reigning World Champion Ludmilla Turischeva at the at the 1975 European Championships. The following year at the age of 14 she did it again on the Olympic stage and took the non-gymnastics world by storm as well.

An analysis of her junior career reveals that Nadia was ready for senior competition long before then. As an 11 year old in 1973 her victories over established Romanian gymnast were in-line with an athlete capable of qualifying for an AA final. But Nadia was also a strong veteran with impressive longevity for the time. In an Olympic quad where the athletes were at their youngest, Nadia is one of the few examples of an Olympic AA champion returning to be a dominant force in her second Olympics.

Despite not winning the 1980 Olympic AA title, Nadia had put up incredible results that had been erased by a key fall. She qualified with the highest score on the first day of competition. Nadia dominated the Olympics, but struggled at the World Championships. She finished 4th at the 1978 World Championships after being worn down by a growth spurt and hampering media obligations. A wrist infection made her unable to compete in the individual events at the 1979 World Championships. But Nadia endured the pain to participate in the team competition on a limited basis and help Romania accomplish a historic upset over the Soviet Union.

These events left one of the most legendary gymnast without an AA medal at the second most prestigious gymnastics competition after the Olympics. Nadia’s trademark non-Olympic victory would come at the European Championships instead. Before Nadia had been much fanfare made over a gymnast winning the AA at the European Championships three times. This milestone had eluded Ludmilla Turischeva, Vera Caslavska, and even Larissa Latynina. Nadia would succeed where every legend before her had failed and accomplish the highly coveted three-peat by winning the European Championships in 1975, 1977, and 1979.

World Championships & Olympic Competition:

Results:

1973
Druzhba: 1st-AA, 1st-VT, 1st-UB
Romanian International: 1st-AA

1974
Jr. Romanian Championships: 1st AA

1975
European Championships: 1st-AA, 1st-VT, 1st-UB, 1st-BB, 2nd-FX
Champions All: 1st-AA
Romanian National Championships: 1st-AA, 1st-VT, 1st-UB, 1st-BB
Pre-Olympics: 1st-AA, 2nd-VT, 2nd-UB, 1st-BB, 2nd-FX

1976
American Cup: 1st-AA
Chunichi Cup: 1st-AA
Olympic Games: 2nd-Team, 1st-AA, 1st-UB, 1st-BB, 3rd-FX

1977
Romanian International: 1st-AA
European Championships: 1st-AA, 2nd-VT, 1st-UB

1978
World Championships: 2nd-Team 4th-AA, 2nd-VT, 1st-BB

1979
Romanian International: 1st-AA
European Championships: 1st-AA, 1st-VT, 3rd-BB, 1st-FX
World Championships: 1st-Team

1980
Romanian International: 1st-AA, 1st-UB
Olympic Games: 2nd-Team, 2nd-AA, 1st-BB, 1st-FX

1981
University Games:  1st-Team, 1st-AA, 1st-Vt, 1st-UB, 1st-BB

Articles Featuring Nadia:

The Time an 11 year Old Nadia Defeated a Legend
The First Time Turischeva Met Nadia Was an Outlandish Incident
You Can’t Google Romania Without Getting Nadia
The Differences Between Nadia and Olga Korbut
Viktoria Listunova Achieved a Record Only Held by Nadia Comaneci

Gallery:

*Nadia had the highest score on beam at the 1977 European Championships but was not awarded a medal because of a team walkout. I credited this as a vacated gold medal as she was the mathematical winner.

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Results are taken from Score for Score, The Gymternet, GymnasticGreats, My Meet Scores, 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 undefined symbols can be found here.

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