Gymnastics has been around since the ancient Greek civilization walked the earth all those thousands of years ago. The word translates from “gymnazein,” which means exercising while nude – oo-er! The Greeks would use swimming, running, wrestling, jumping, weightlifting, and throwing to perfect their skills, so they were the most acrobatic and coordinated people.
The skills they practiced also meant that they were able to mount their horses more efficiently, very handy when it comes to riding into battle. The Romans then conquered the country where they put their own spin on the sport. They began using gymnastics to perfect their battle techniques as the footwork and agility required made them the ultimate fighting machines. However, Rome began to decline, meaning that the number of people interested in gymnastics did too. Tumbling was the only part of gymnastics to remain, but was then used as a form of entertainment instead.
It wasn’t until the 1700s that gymnastics began to look how we know it today. A man from Germany began to design equipment to use for the sport, including the balance beam and the parallel bars. The following century the sport started to grow in popularity rapidly, beginning in Germany but soon spreading across Europe. Around the time of the Civil War, America was introduced to the sport where a doctor started to develop more gym equipment to use. As the sport evolved, the focus on rivalry began to decline, with the focus shifting to the athlete’s form.
The first time it was seen in the Olympics was during 1896, but since then it has become one of the most popular sports of the games, with over 85% of people admitting they wanted to watch the sport during the 2016 Olympics. There have been many stars of the sport over the years, including Simone Biles, Shawn Johnson, and Dominique Dawes, but there is one name that always comes up in the list of greats. Nadia Comăneci.
Since childhood, it seemed inevitable that Nadia would be on of the most exceptional gymnasts of all time, but no one knew just how great. This record-setting superstar has been able to continually wow us over the years, but there is a lot more to this sporting legend than meets the eye. With a roller coaster story on her journey to fame, Nadia’s life has contained everything from the most euphoric moments to utter turmoil. With everything at stake, and all eyes on her, what are the secrets lying behind this gymnastic legend?
[post_page_title]Born in Europe[/post_page_title]
In the mountains of Carpathian in Romania there is the town of Onesti tucked away. It was here that Nadia Comăneci was born on November 12, 1961. Her father, Gheorghe Comăneci, had lived in Romania all his life where he worked as a car mechanic. Stephanie, Nadia’s mother, and her father went on to have another child, Adrian, and they raised their children as Romanian Orthodox, which wasn’t uncommon for Romanians at the time. Her parents struggled to raise Nadia as they couldn’t keep up with her constant energy. To try and help, her mother signed Nadia up for gymnastics.