nadia comaneci

nadia comaneci

STAY TUNED (TV's Unforgettable Moments) - Episode 31 - "Comaneci and Retton - The Perfect 10s"

5d ago
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See the actual television moments that made you laugh and cry - the comedies, the dramas, the historic news stories, and the celebrated sports events. Also included are exclusive interviews with the stars, writers, producers, and directors who will take you behind the scenes. Television networks ardently compete for the right to broadcast the Olympics and spend billions of dollars presenting the pageantry and hoping for drama that will attract viewers and generate even more in advertising revenues. At the Montreal games in 1976, and again at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, the ABC network and it's viewers got more than they had hoped for; they got perfection. In most sports, perfection is in the eye of the beholder. But in gymnastics, it is easily definable. Perfection is a score of 10. That score had never been posted in Olympic competition heading into the 1976 Games. But that year a four-foot, 11-inch, 86-pound dynamo from Romania named Nadia Comaneci achieved the seemingly unreachable mark. Comaneci quickly became the favorite of the crowd on July 18, 1976, with her performance on the uneven bars, the first compulsory evercise. She was hoping for a 9.9. Sure enough, Comaneci got her 10. Yet the Montral officials were so unprepared for the possibility of a 10 that the scoreboard was programmed to go only as high as 9.99. Comaneci's 10 was posted as 1.00. By the time the 1976 Olympic competition was over, Comaneci had collected seven scores of 10, three gold medals, two silvers, and a Bronze. "And every little girl wanted to put their hair in pigtails and tumble and jump and play on the uneven bars," said ABC commentator Cathy Rigby, herself a gymnast in both the 1968 and 1972 Games, and the first American woman to win a medal in world gymnastics competition. "Television provided amazing exposure. It put a face on gymnastics, and gyms filled up with little kids wanting to do this." Eight years later Rigby was behind the ABC network microphone when perfection appeared again on the Olympic stage. This time, it was an American achieving the ultimate honor on her native soil. Mary Lou Retton of Fairmont, West Virginia, was still an extreme long shot going into the final two events of the women's individual all-around gymnastics competition at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. In order to wrest the gold from a pair of Romanians - Ecaterina Szabo and Simona Pauca - Retton would need a perfect score in both events. Even history was against her. No U.S. women's gymnast had ever won a single individual medal of any color. As an eight-year-old, Retton had sat transfixed in front of a television and watched Comaneci scale the Olympian heights to perfection. Now she was about to attempt the same daunting climb. On August 3, 1984, it came down to the vault, her best event. As Retton prepared for the greatest moment of her athletic career, Szabo finished up on the uneven bars with a 9.9. Then Retton knew for sure. She would need a 9.95 to tie for the gold medal, a 10 to win. "Now or never," her coach, Bela Karolyi, told her. One after another, four 10s were posted, Retton had beaten Szabo for the gold by 5/100ths of a point, Pauca by half a point. The crowd of 9,023 erupted. The chants of "Mary Lou! Mary Lou!" emanated from every corner of the arena. U.S. flags seemed to be in every hand, saluting America's newest sweetheart. Like Comaneci before her, Retton soaked in the glory of a perfect day, and once again television coverage gave gymnastics a name and a face.