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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Connector of the Day: Nadia Comaneci

October 15th, 2009
08:06 PM ET

LONDON, England - Nadia Comaneci is one of the most famous gymnasts in the world.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/15/art.comaneci.jpg caption="Nadia Comaneci as she appeared on CNN last year promoting Botox"]

Born in Romania, she represented her country in 1976, at the age of 14, at the Montreal Summer Olympics - and dazzled the world by attaining the first ever perfect 10 score in gymnastics.

She defected from Romania and escaped to the U.S. in 1989 just weeks before the revolution against Ceausescu's regime.

Her arrival in America was tarnished with scandal - her companion Constantin Panait who had helped her escape Romania was a married man and father of four children.

Comaneci distanced herself from Panait and made a life for herself touring the States modelling and doing promotion work.

She has since returned to Romania where she married fellow athlete Bart Conner.

The pair now live in the U.S. and work with young gymnasts. Comaneci also works in Romania on charitable causes.

Last year, she appeared on CNN promoting another cause; the use of Botox as a way for people to remain youthful.

If you want to ask her about her incredible childhood achievements at the Olympics, or her escape from Communism, then send in your questions for Nadia Comaneci here.

Or you might want to ask her what she makes of today's Olympic events and athletes. We'll put your questions to her in Friday's show.

soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Dan...... Madrid

    Nadia we love you ! I will always remember that beam exercise in Montreal ! My question .... what should young girls learn from your experience ??

    October 15, 2009 at 8:58 pm | Reply
  2. Dan Lynch

    As an American, I have spend quite a bit of time in Romania on business over the past 15 years, which has given me the opportunity to observe the changes there . What charitable work are you doing there and what do you think needs to be done?

    October 16, 2009 at 1:13 am | Reply
  3. Melanie

    What do you see as the best and worst of both your birth country and your adopted country.

    I was told that among former Eastern bloc countries, Romanian passports have the weakest reputation. What is your view on that?

    Is it true that owing to past suppression, Romanians take every opportunity to make use of the moment when they come together to celebrate? ?. I attended my first European wedding where the bride's family were Romanians and I was absolutely amazed at how much energy they had.

    Do you have any religious belief, before your defection and now? What led to it?

    October 16, 2009 at 1:53 am | Reply
  4. Dana Jaromi

    thanks for accepting us to ask
    here is my question from Nadia,

    what is your best lesson from your life since you are a very unique person for the time and scape from your country and went through so many things that you shouldn't?


    October 16, 2009 at 2:53 am | Reply
  5. Guni Kadmon

    Dear Mrs. Comaneci,
    To me it seems that training for Olympic disciplines in which young people have a clear advantage (e.g. women gymnastics, swimming) is none other than child labour. Hard labour. Would you agree that in the “Olympic spirit” child exploitation is subordinate to commercial interests and public thirst for sensation?
    Best regards, Guni Kadmon, Germany

    October 16, 2009 at 3:30 am | Reply
  6. ginger

    Why didn't you adopt a Romanian orphan instead of having a biological child?

    October 16, 2009 at 3:46 am | Reply
  7. Andrei Ionescu

    Tell Nadia that Romanians love her! Thank you, Nadia!

    October 16, 2009 at 5:10 am | Reply
  8. Apom Barnabas

    Nadia, I am a very big fun of yours. I was born an athlete, I have a burning desire to always push myself higher. However, my country hardly encourage people with such passions so i have convected those need to win into business now. I still jog for for fun and health. My question is simple; How do you motivate yourself to go one when you know you have a though race ahead of you? and when you fail to win a race, how do you motivate yourself back to the winning mood. How does it feel to be one of the best in the world? honestly? what does your heart tells you after all this years of fame?
    Barnabas from Ghana, West Africa

    October 16, 2009 at 9:22 am | Reply
  9. Dana Cottrell

    Ms. Comaneci, I have always admired you; your athleticism, your struggles, and your ability to persevere. My question is, "Was it all worth it?" If you had the chance to go back and not have entered into gymnastics, would you have chosen that route instead?
    Thank you.

    October 16, 2009 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  10. Ada

    Dear Nadia,

    I lived in the U.S. for ten years and whenever I told someone I was from Romania, I invariably got the same reply: "Oh, I heard of Romania-you guys are big at gymnastics, Nadia Comaneci, right?" Thank you for representing our country so honorably, for putting a face on its name! Have you ever thought of returning to Romania, to live here? Do you still feel at home when you visit? How about getting involved in politics here? You know we could use some open-minded, enthusiastic and uncorrupted people to lead this country!

    With deepest regards,

    October 16, 2009 at 12:23 pm | Reply
  11. Khurram

    Just want to compliment that she is a great lady. After she won the gold in 1976, many girls in Pakistan born between 1976 and 1980 were named Nadia. Perhpas Nadia was the most popular name in Pakistan in that period (I am sure she might not be aware of this).

    October 16, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Reply
  12. Claire

    Dear Nadia, what do you think of modern gymnastics and what is your opinion on compulsories? (ps you're awesome)

    October 16, 2009 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  13. Francis Arif

    Dear Nadia,

    I have followed your life journey from 1976 till today. You have been through both fame and twists of fate to come to where you are now. I would like you to say a word or two for the aspiring girls from poverty ridden countries like ours who like to dream of copying your success in life. Meantime goodluck to you and your family.

    Rgds/Francis Arif
    From: Dhaka, Bangladesh.

    October 16, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  14. Don Canard

    Women in the ex-east bloc are being trafficked for sex work as though they were a commodity to be consumed. If you see any ways to change those societies so that this exploitation ends without reintroducing sexual repression, that would be a great service. In your time, communism gave young women a path to functional adulthood, but at great cost. How can we provide a similar effect within the framework of a free society ?

    Best wishes for continued success!

    October 16, 2009 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  15. Jose Bello

    Nadia... what was your state of your soul in those days?
    my greatest respect for you...

    October 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  16. Bobbie

    Dear Ms. Comaneci,
    Could you please give your opinion on the intensity of training in Romania 35 yrs ago vs. today. And how does it compare to the States? Are Americans any less draconian? If someone were to ask your advice about encouraging their child to aspire to the Olympics, what would you say?
    Thank you and I wish you all the best.

    October 16, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  17. BaffaMustapha

    I wasn’t even born when you made history.but that doesn’t mean that i wont have anything to ask.
    You were 14,when you made Olympic history.the media attention,fans..e.t.c must have had an impact on you more especially at such a young age.my question is:How did you experienced it and How did you try to keep yourself motivated and focused. Also WHAT advice would you give to star KIDs who may be faced with the same scenario?

    BaffaMustapha-Kano Nigeria

    October 16, 2009 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  18. andrew taylor 4

    Dear Ms. Comaneci

    No question, just wanted to say hello and thanks for sharing your talents with us.


    October 16, 2009 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  19. Om Nirola

    Hi Nadia,
    Like millions around the world, I am a big fan of yours. Although gymnastics is not a popular sport in my country – Bhutan, I am fascinated by the stories of young gymnasts who make it big.
    Recently there has been much hue and cry over the gender of South African athlete Caster Semenya. I have read that the condition present in Caster is not her fault, but natural. Should she continue competing as a woman? Should she stop competing? Should she compete with men?
    On the other hand, there may not be many athletes with conditions similar to Caster to create a third category of competition – the first and second being men and women.
    What do you have to say on this issue? Is it fair to allow athletes such as Caster to continue competing in international sports??
    With my regards

    October 16, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  20. Jack Metty

    how did you get into the sport world?

    October 16, 2009 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  21. Monica

    I still remember the thrill of watching you achieve the perfect 10 in 1976. It was magnificent! Well done, well done, well done.

    October 16, 2009 at 5:26 pm | Reply
  22. Mike

    What do you do to stay in shape now?

    October 16, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Reply
  23. vincent

    you are a champion. i was six years old when you won that gold medal but i still remember you performing on the beam as i watch the event on black and white tv...what is your source of motivation during your training? thanks for your perfect ten.

    October 16, 2009 at 5:36 pm | Reply
  24. Kevin

    Do you and Bart intend to put your own child in gymnastics or will you let him choose what he wants?

    October 16, 2009 at 9:00 pm | Reply
  25. Maria, Germany

    Great sport can not be made without sacrifices and you probably payed a lot. At the same time I know that in Romania and all over the world, especially in cases of children, there are abuses (beattings, yellings etc).
    Did you experience that personally? Do you know about that happening? Would you speak out about children being abused in the name of big performances?

    October 16, 2009 at 9:01 pm | Reply
  26. Ian

    Didi you have a lot of problems with the costumes riding up?

    October 16, 2009 at 9:28 pm | Reply
  27. claudia

    All you sacrifice of your childhood to be an athlete and the wieght of the fame of the "perfect 10" was worth it? Would you change anything in your life?

    October 17, 2009 at 2:00 am | Reply
  28. The Joke R

    Unquestionably believe that that you said. Your favorite justification appeared to be at the internet the easiest factor to bear in mind of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed even as other folks think about issues that they plainly do not recognize about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest and defined out the entire thing with no need side effect , people can take a signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thank you

    July 31, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Reply

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