July 18, 1976: Olympic Hero Nadia Comaneci’s Perfect 10

Nadia Comaneci, of Romania, dismounts from the uneven parallel bars at the Olympic Games in Montreal
July 18, 1976: Olympic Hero Nadia Comaneci’s Perfect 10

There are moments in sport that will forever be marked by the greatness of human ability. Such was the case with Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci and her perfect 10.

Nadia Comaneci’s Perfect 10

The date is July 18, 1976, and the place is the Montreal Summer Olympics. Fourteen-year-old Nadia Comaneci from Romania steps in to perform 30 seconds of perfection on the uneven bars. And then something remarkable happens. The scoreboard flashes “1.00” for her performance. Spectators, officials, and gymnasts are all confused, including Nadia. The announcer then explains the judges have awarded the Romanian a 10.00. The score was so unprecedented that the scoreboard wasn’t even programmed to be able to show it. It could display no more than 9.99.

Nadia Comaneci looking confused at the board which wasn't programmed to display 10.00
July 18, 1976: Olympic Hero Nadia Comaneci’s Perfect 10

A Rare Talent

Comaneci went on to earn six more perfect 10s, which helped lead her team to their first Olympic Silver medal for the gymnast team event. She also won individual gold medals for the uneven bars, the balance beam, and the all-around competition. Nadia’s talent really shone through a year before the Olympics — in April 1975 — when she competed at the International Champions All-Tournament at Wembley as an ‘adult,’ which made her the youngest ever competitor of this event.

Nadia Comaneci’s Legacy

Nadia nowadays at her gymnastics academy in Oklahoma
July 18, 1976: Olympic Hero Nadia Comaneci’s Perfect 10

After her mindblowing success, the young gymnast was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Time, and Newsweek all in the same week. More than four decades later, Nadia Comaneci continues to be a synonym of the perfect 10. The record for the youngest Olympic all-round champion in gymnastics continues to be hers as well. Nadia fled Romania a couple of weeks before the fall of the Ceausescu regime in 1989. Today, she resides in Oklahoma and is running a gymnastics academy alongside her husband, former US Olympic gymnast Bart Conner. Her goal is to inspire other athletes to follow in her footsteps.