That summer (what with July 18th being in the summer) Nadia Comăneci broke all the equipment at the gymnastics event. And when I say “broke the equipment” I don’t mean that at all. Nadia (who was 14 at the time) flew around the uneven bars, stuck the landing, and was awarded a 10. The problem was that the scoring equipment didn’t have enough room for four digits (10.00) and so her score was displayed as 1.00. This upset the spectators for several quality seconds until they realized that (in a strange usage of mathematics) 1.00 = 10.00 at which point everyone cheered.
Nadia went on to earn six more tens and capture the all-around, beam, and bars titles (she also got the bronze for floor).
Nadia was the youngest gymnast to win the Olympic all-around. In 1976, you only had to be 14 on the first day of the competition (that’s why I didn’t compete—I wasn’t old enough). The current rules say gymnasts have to turn 16 in the calendar year the Olympics are being held, so unless the rules change again, she’s got a lock on that particular record.
Because she was a sensation (the other day I heard someone refer to a stop-smoking program as a “smoking sensation” option—argh!), her face, her performances, and her story were everywhere. One of the pieces of music used for a montage of her on ABC’s Wide World of Sports was renamed (by the composers) “Nadia’s Theme.” Turns out she never performed to Nadia’s Theme, but most people don’t know that because it is so associated with her.
Here’s to making today a “10.”