Nadia Comaneci, a star who was abused under the Romanian Communist regime

(Bucharest) Beyond Perfection, Slaps and Insults: Former Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci was bullied by her coach under the eyes of Nicolae Chuchesco, according to a recent book based on unpublished files from Securitate.


Mihaela Rodina
France Media

The young prodigy, Queen of the 1976 Montreal Olympics, who was the first gymnast to achieve a maximum of 10, was under constant scrutiny in her home country, which made her a major propaganda tool.

A tool to terrorize one of the most oppressive regimes in the Communist bloc, Securitate follows millions of Romanians for a prank targeting the dictator Ceaușescu, a meeting with a foreigner, a relative residing in the West.

In the case of Nadia Comaneci – codename “Corina” – it is an “impressive” device, made up of undercover agents, doctors, and union officials, but also the pianist or choreographer of the team. , Which was created, explained in an interview with Agence France-Presse historian Stigrill Ularu, who wrote it Nadia and Security Nadia and the Securitate were just released in Bucharest.

He had access to thousands of pages of declassified reports, fueled by accusations and phone conversations intercepted by the former political police.

Many of the documents attest to the “abusive relationship” and that relate to training more than the training that the “Montreal Fairy” was subjected to by her teacher, Bella Caroly, says the author.

PHOTO PIERRE MCCANN, press archive

Nadia Comaneci at the 1976 Montreal Olympics

‘Terrorism’

These archives are often transferred to Ceaușescu himself, shedding new light on the humiliation endured by the gymnast and her teammates.

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“The girls are hit so badly that they suffer from nosebleeds,” one informant said, referring to Mr. Caroli’s “terror and brutality”, while a doctor accuses him of treating women athletes as “cows” or “fools.” .

Carole’s response to his critics: “By nature, I am never satisfied: never enough.”

“The gymnasts are the best prepared in the world. And they won. He emphasized that it is the only thing that matters.”

If the abuse has since been condemned, including by American heroes trained by Bella and Marta Caroly after the couple fled to the United States in 1981, Nadia has remained somewhat wary.

In a 1977 interview with journalists, which was never published and whose book reveals her existence, she recounted that she was repeatedly “insulted” but also slapped hard after consuming 300 grams. She said she was so regularly hungry that she was able to “barely stand up”.

“Too many things have happened […]Nadia added that, six months after the Montreal Games, she refused to train with Bella Caroly, even if I only see her, I can’t.

PHOTO PIERRE MCCANN, press archive

Nadia Comaneci on the first step on the podium after the singles all-around in the women’s gymnastics competition at the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976

In her diary, she described the girls being beaten when they missed an exercise, according to an informant who had read excerpts from it.

The young athletes were forced to train even if they became exhausted, and were denied medical care.

Nadia’s mother had also complained to the union and requested to speak directly to Ceaușescu. The interview was canceled at the last minute, however, without an explanation.

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Nadia, whom the dictator called “the heroine of socialist action”, did not escape bullying: she was “tortured, intimidated and humiliated,” as the historian asserts.

“prisoner”

Mr. Caroli, a member of the Hungarian minority, was also closely monitored and suspected of “anti-country activities”.

So why did the authorities, who are so ruthless in their political repression, allow him to do so? “By purely political calculations. How can they be proud of the high standard of the gymnastics school and at the same time conduct an investigation against Mr. Caroli?”, Notes of Mr. Olaro.

After retiring from sporting life in 1984, Nadia became a “prisoner” in her own country, where she was banned – with rare exceptions – from traveling abroad.

However, the young woman managed to illegally cross the border with Hungary in November 1989, before traveling to seek political asylum in the United States.

The last report on this dates back to December 20, two days before the fall of Ceausescu.

Keen not to take “apparent value reports that may be false or malicious”, the expert specifies that he has conducted several interviews with the former gymnast, who is now 59 years old.

If she did not allow herself to be interviewed after the book was published, she confirmed to AFP that she had been in contact with Stejărel Olaru.

“Nadia thinks she has done what her ambition to do,” he said, portraying a “rebellious” and “combat athlete, who was able to recover after the difficult tests she was subjected to.”

“Far from being privileged as she came at the time, Nadia was a victim of the system.”

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