The Daily Telegraph

July 18, 1976 Nadia Comaneci’s perfect 10


After 30 seconds of perfection on the uneven bars, the scoreboard flashed up “1.00”.

Nadia Comaneci glanced at the board, confused to have been given such a low score, but it was time to take to the beam.

What 14-year-old Comaneci did not realise was that she had made history.

The judges had awarded her a 10.0, a score so unpreceden­ted the board had not been programmed to display higher than 9.99. No Olympic gymnast had ever achieved a perfect 10.

Comaneci was born in 1961 in the Carpathian Mountains to a car mechanic and factory worker. Her talent was spotted at the age of six after she joined a boarding school for gymnasts.

At one point, she was taken to hospital after apparently drinking bleach – a claim she has since denied, though she admits the training environmen­t was extremely tough.

Her talent shone through in April 1975 when she competed in her first competitio­n as an “adult”, becoming the youngest competitor at the Internatio­nal Champions All Tournament at Wembley.

She went on to win four gold medals and a silver at the European Championsh­ips before making history at Montreal 1976.

Comaneci earned seven perfect 10s, helping Romania to their first Olympic silver medal for the team event. She also won individual gold medals on the balance beam and uneven bars and in the all-around competitio­n.

Four of her perfect scores were awarded for the uneven bars. Three others came after Comaneci, 4ft 11in tall, performed pirouettes and backflips on a beam measuring four inches across.

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