1. Nadia Elena Comăneci is a former Romanian gymnast, winner of three gold medals at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnastics event.
2. She also won two gold medals at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
3. Nadia Elena Comăneci was born in Onești, Romania, the daughter of Gheorghe and Ștefania-Alexandrina Comăneci. Her mother was inspired to call her Nadia by a Russian film she watched while pregnant, whose heroine was called Nadya, the diminutive version of the Russian name Nadezhda, which means “hope.”
4. Comăneci has a brother named Adrian who is four years younger than her.
5. Comăneci began gymnastics in kindergarten with a local team called Flacăra , with coaches Duncan and Munteanu. Károlyi was looking for gymnasts he could train from a young age and saw the two girls during recess.
6. Károlyi went around the classrooms trying to find them, and eventually spotted Comăneci.
7. Comăneci was training with Károlyi by the time she was 7 years old, in 1968.
8. She was one of the first students at the gymnastics school established in Onești by Béla and his wife, Márta.
9. Comăneci placed 13th in her first Romanian National Championships in 1969, at the age of 8.
10. Béla Károlyi thought this was unlucky and gave her a doll to remind her never to place 13th again—she did not.
11. A year later, in 1970, she began competing as a member of her hometown team and became the youngest gymnast ever to win the Romanian Nationals. In 1971, she participated in her first international competition, a dual junior meet between Romania and Yugoslavia, winning her first all-around title and contributing to the team gold.
12. For the next few years, she competed as a junior in numerous national contests in Romania and dual meets with countries such as Hungary, Italy, and Poland.
13. She continued to enjoy success that year, winning the all-around at the “Champions All” competition and placing first in the all-around, vault, beam, and bars at the Romanian National Championships.
14. In the pre-Olympic test event in Montreal, Comăneci won the all-around and the balance beam golds, as well as silvers in the vault, floor, and bars behind accomplished Soviet gymnast Nellie Kim, who would prove to be one of her greatest rivals over the next five years.
15. In March 1976, Comăneci competed in the inaugural edition of the American Cup at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
16. She received rare scores of 10, which signified a perfect routine without any deductions, on vault in both the preliminary and final rounds of competition and won the all-around.