First gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10.0
"Nadia Comăneci is a Romanian former gymnast and a five-time Olympic gold medalist. Comăneci is the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10.0 at the Olympic Games, and then, at the same Games (1976, Montreal) she received six more perfect 10s as well as winning three gold medals. She won two more gold medals and attained two more perfect 10s at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
During her career Comăneci won nine Olympic medals and four World Artistic Gymnastics Championship medals.
Comăneci is one of the world's best-known gymnasts and is credited with popularizing the sport around the globe. In 2000, she was named as one of the Athletes of the 20th Century by the Laureus World Sports Academy...
Comăneci displaying her medals
In March 1976, Comăneci competed in the inaugural edition of the American Cup at Madison Square Garden in New York City. She received rare scores of 10, which signified a perfect routine without any deductions, for her vault in the preliminary stage and for her floor exercise routine in the final of the all-around competition which she went on to win...
Summer Olympics in Montreal
"At Montreal [Comăneci] received four of her seven 10s on the uneven bars. The apparatus demands such a spectacular burst of energy in such a short time—only 23 seconds—that it attracts the most fanfare. But it is on the beam that her work seems more representative of her unbelievable skill. She scored three of her seven 10s on the beam. Her hands speak there as much as her body. Her pace magnifies her balance. Her command and distance hush the crowd.
— Sports Illustrated, 1976
On July 18, Comăneci made history at the 1976 Summer Olympics, when during the team compulsory portion of the competition, she was awarded the first perfect 10 in Olympic gymnastics for her routine on the uneven bars. However, Omega SA—the traditional Olympics scoreboard manufacturer— was led to believe that it was impossible to receive a perfect ten, thus the scoreboard was not programmed to display that score. Comăneci's perfect 10 thus appeared as "1.00," the only means by which the judges could indicate that she had indeed received a 10. The crowd was at first confused, but soon understood and gave her a rousing ovation.
During the remainder of the Montreal Games, Comăneci earned six additional tens. She won gold medals for the individual all-around, the balance beam and uneven bars. She also won a bronze for the floor exercise and a silver as part of the team all-around. Soviet gymnast Nellie Kim was her main rival during the Montreal Olympics; Kim became the second gymnast to receive a perfect ten for her performance on the vault. Comăneci also took over the spotlight from Olga Korbut, who had been the darling of the 1972 Munich Games.
Comăneci was the first Romanian gymnast to win the Olympic all-around title. She also holds the record for being the youngest Olympic gymnastics all-around champion ever. The sport has now revised its age-eligibility requirements. Gymnasts must now turn 16 in the same calendar year of the Olympics to compete during the Games. When Comăneci competed in 1976, gymnasts had to be 14 by the first day of the competition. Legally breaking this record is not currently possible. She was the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year for 1976 and the Associated Press's 1976 "Female Athlete of the Year". Back home in Romania, Comăneci's success led her to be awarded the Sickle and Hammer Gold Medal, and named a Hero of Socialist Labor; she was the youngest Romanian to receive such recognition during the administration of Nicolae Ceaușescu." (1)
Comaneci continued on to compete and success dozens more times at the international level. She is one of the most internationally recognized gymnasts in modern history.