Nadia Nadia Nadia. Much Nadia. With an extra dash of Nadia. The Olympics of Nadia—in which Comaneci came away with three of the five individual gold medals—also produced perhaps the least controversial Olympic beam champion of all time. I mean…uh doooyyy.
Comaneci’s beam routine in 1976 raised the difficulty stakes well beyond the “OMG an acrobatic element” world of the 1972 Olympic by incorporating a front aerial, a side aerial connected to back handspring, a series of back handsprings, and a cartwheel into a layout double full dismount in an event-final routine that easily outpaced the rest of the competition in both difficulty and execution.
Awarding a 10.000 to her event-final routine really prickles the old anxiety muscles given her not-close-to-stuck dismount, but the superiority of Comaneci’s routine compared to the rest of the field is indisputable.
The race for gold may have been ultimately uneventful (Comaneci ended up needing only 9.800 in the final to win, and home girl wasn’t getting some 9.8 on beam like a common farmhand), but the race for silver proved dramatic, coming down to the beam queen of the previous Olympics—Olga Korbut—against The One Who Wasn’t Nadia—Teodora Ungureanu.
In 1976, Korbut was still a strong gymnast and not the “why is she so old and gross now?” bucket of bolts of popular conception whom the New York Times evaluated as follows: “At times her hair was messy and her smile a hollow grin. She was an also‐ran.” Great.Continue reading Olympic Beam Finals: A History, Part 2 (1976-1996)