"What do we do with this girl? She's better than the rules."
September 4, 2020 5:59 PM   Subscribe

While MeFites of a certain age may remember playing the recorder or the piano to Nadia's Theme, gymnast Nadia Comăneci never performed to that piece of music, though it was used in montages of her accomplishments in ABC's Wide World of Sports. She discusses her career in Eternal Princess a documentary short by Katie Holmes.

Other Comăneci trivia
- She met her future husband, gymnast Bart Conner, when she was 15. They reconnected when she defected to the US and he surprised her on the Pat Sajak show. They currently live in Oklahoma.
- She has an eponymous skill, the Comăneci salto.
- That song was eventually renamed Nadia's Theme, though it was originally called Cotton's Dream from the film Bless the Beasts and the Children
posted by jessamyn (9 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Wowsa am I ever of the right age to LOVE this post. If no one has seen her perfect 10 performances well scroll on up. I even had a Nadia school lunch box. I’m not sure lunch boxes are used as marketing tools anymore but they were a big deal. But for a short time I rode high on it (see also Charlie’s Angels)
posted by pipoquinha at 9:54 PM on September 4, 2020 [8 favorites]

In case if you’re wondering whether Cotton’s Dream/Nadia’s Theme/The Theme From “The Young and the Restless” has lyrics — yes, yes it does and The Hoff knows them.
posted by Ranucci at 11:11 PM on September 4, 2020 [6 favorites]

I recently binged the 30 for 30 podcast series on coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi. Nadia Comăneci doesn't speak (though her story features prominently, obviously) but several others who trained with them in Romania do. Sounded very, very rough. But it's a great series.
posted by retrograde at 11:55 PM on September 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Cold War x Int'l Sporting has been my summer jam. Thanks for this.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:43 AM on September 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I was absolutely captivated by her at the time and was dying for gymnastics lessons but alas. Good thing too, probably, as I've turned into such an orthopedic wreck all on my own.

She seems so self-possessed. Centered. And a bit tangential but wow, this is a person whose facial bone structure has changed as she matured in a really dramatic way. I always find that so fascinating. If you looked at me now and then had to pick me out of my 2nd-grade class photo, it would be easy, but I don't think I could do it for her. Well, now I could. You know what I mean.
posted by HotToddy at 9:08 AM on September 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Please note this is a post made as part of MeFi's Fundraising Month. Read more about this project here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:16 AM on September 5, 2020

I had kind of known that Comăneci was living under an oppressive regime in Romania but I hadn't known just how much it was a problem and how much her leaving was its own problem (for her family and then because she was in a bad relationship with one of the people she defected with). I lived in Romania from 1994-1995--missed the wedding!--and I really related to a lot of her reflective observations about the place.
posted by jessamyn at 11:18 AM on September 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'd heard of her, bit hasn't known much besides that she was one of the best gymnasts of her generation. Really interesting to know more and just how big a deal she's was. It's wired to watch the routines now. That look... easy? compared to modern ones. Which of course that's the case, but it still feels odd to see how much the sport had changed.

this is a person whose facial bone structure has changed as she matured in a really dramatic way.
Yes! Especially the photo from her 20s, just after she defected
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 12:09 AM on September 6, 2020

I was one year old for the 1976 Olympics. I was a competitive gymnast for a few years and was OBSESSED with the book A Very Young Gymnast, which is how I learned about Nadia, and then begged my mom to get me every book I could find about her.
posted by Pax at 6:00 PM on September 7, 2020

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