In most Olympic sports,
it is clear who has won. Who threw the furthest,
who jumped the highest, who crossed the finishing line
first. Artistic gymnastics
is not one of those sports. It is won or lost on the
opinion of the judges, whose job is to assess
technique, control, execution, plus that hard-to-define
element – artistry. The gymnasts themselves
are in pursuit of an ideal. An immaculate,
error-free performance complemented by artistic
interpretation, even if that ideal is,
effectively, unattainable. Because one thing the judges have always agreed on –
nobody’s perfect. Montreal 1976,
the Games of the 21st Olympiad. For decades, the gymnastics
competition had been dominated by the Soviet Union, and they
brought a dream team to Canada. Ludmilla Tourischeva, Olga Korbut and the new star, Nellie Kim. But the Soviets were
worried about their rivals and one gymnast in particular. Up until 1976, Romanian
gymnastics had a modest Olympic record, only one bronze medal. Compare that with the Soviet
Union over the same period. This new girl from Romania,
however, had been a sensation at the 1975 European
Championships, where she entered five events
and won four of them. Her name was Nadia Comaneci
and she was 14 years old. So young, yet so self-assured. She just didn’t make mistakes. Comaneci grew up in
the town of Onesti, where coaches Bela and
Marta Karolyi had set up a training programme. They had a keen eye for talent, and spotted Comaneci
turning cartwheels in the school playground when she was six years old. Comaneci trained six hours
a day, five days a week. She swiftly became the star
of the Karolyi Academy. She finished 13th in the senior Romanian Nationals
Championships when she was only
eight years old. The next year, aged nine, she won the competition
outright. She was the talk of
the gymnastics world. But her first appearance
at the Olympic Games, competing in the team event, would make her
an international star. Now, imagine you are the judge, and you have to assess this
performance. Keep a close eye out
for any mistakes. See anything? Pay attention, Jan. Hmm? What? Oh! The dismount was faultless. How do you judge that? When the results were posted, the scoreboard showed 1.0
out of 10. Comaneci had outdone
the technology of the day. The judges’ verdict
was actually 10.00, a perfect ten. Amazing. That’s what I gave
her. – Not me. I gave her 11.
– Hm. It was a moment that turned
Comaneci into a star. She was the first gymnast
to be awarded a perfect ten at the Olympic Games. Much as it is for astronauts, landing is everything in
gymnastics. This was where the judges
could reliably find fault. And yet this girl’s landing
was, in a word, faultless. Another perfect ten. Despite Comaneci’s performance, the Soviet Union won gold in
the team event in Montreal. Comaneci and her Romanian
team-mates took silver. Soviet strength in depth
won out. But looking at the results, there is little doubt
which numbers stand out. Her rivals will have seen
Comaneci’s scores and known there was only one favourite
for the overall competition. And so it proved. Comaneci won the overall
individual gold medal, the most prestigious award
in female gymnastics. She scored another five
perfect tens in the process, also adding individual gold
medals in both the uneven bars and the balance beam. Comaneci changed the style
of gymnastics forever, setting a new standard
for those who came after her. And the records she set
can never now be beaten. It is no longer possible to
compete at the Olympics aged 14 and, in 2006,
the scoring system was radically overhauled. There is no longer any such
thing as a perfect ten. Comaneci stands alone.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. A 14 year old rubber band!! It's just so cool that humans can push their bodies to extremes and adapt beautifully…

  2. I remember watching her and at the time when anyone just tripped on a crack on the sidewalk we would called them Nadia!

  3. I see the ugly judge was comparing other things! Why do they even film under age children anyway!!? Should be banned! Sick photographers!

  4. And to think she was discovered because the future Romanian Olympic coach happened to be out looking for candidates in a school yard. And he saw her and a friend of hers doing cartwheels. She became the greatest gymnast in the world and her friend went on to become one of the greatest ballerinas in Romania. What are the odds…

  5. NADIA Comaneci….gimnastic…
    Elvis Presley…roak en roll…
    Bruce lee…..karate….
    Pavaroti ,Calas …..opera……..

  6. Actually Nellie Kim got tens on the floor and vault, winning 3 golds and a silver, in Montreal. However her amazing accomplishments were overshadowed by Nadia. Gotta feel for her.

  7. It was the America Cup and the year was 1976 at Madison Square Garden.
    A correction/ edit of my previous reply🤸🌍🌎🐛🦋💜🤗

  8. WAHNSINN! 😍 A 🌟STAR🌟 IS BORN ! EIN "PERFECT 10" ! 😃 Sie hat sehr hart dafür trainiert und gerecht 10 bekommen, es war alles perfect! Insgesamt hat sie in Montreal 7 mal ein "PERFECT 10"! GRATULIERE NADIA ! 🌹😍

  9. Didn't she step back out of her dismount?? Surely that's a deduction? She could've stuck it but she went into her salute prematurely and threw herself off balance.

  10. If anyone was wondering, she now resides in the United States in Oklahoma, with her husband, an Olympian that competed for the USA.

  11. I just started highschool when Nadia got her 10. She was the first eastern european superstar. There were posters, handbags, what have you. She was everywhere. And we used to say when thing went wrong: Well, nobody is perfect. Exept for Nadia Comaneci…..

  12. @Olympic – This video is disappointing because it does not show Nadia's winning routines in their entirety. The fact that you ended the video with the choppy, partial body shots made the poor editing more noticeable and detracted from the inspiration of the uneven bar routine.

  13. Well respect !!!!! Of course , she is the best in her time and still stand alone and will stand forever, especially in our hearts.

  14. Nadia got 10's on all the events…though not in order–Back then they did not have the bouncy floors either–where she got her 10 on floor routine.

  15. I think, now, the closest to the "perfect 10" that a gymnast can achieve is by getting a 10 in E score.

  16. Because this seems to be a real hot topic, she herself pronounces her last name without the “I”. Like Comaneetch.

  17. Perhaps you should have showed the actual first perfect 10? The routine you showed was NOT the first one. The first one she got the 10 was at the team compulsories and she did a different routine to the one you showed.

  18. Lovely seing a full natural athlete and not Simone Biles who looks like someone cut the face of a young girl and glued it to a steroid abusing midget:p

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