Nadia Comaneci: From Olympian To ‘Apprentice’
First Published: January 6, 2008 3:06 PM EST Credit: Access Hollywood
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Donald Trump kicks off Tuesday night’s premiere of “Celebrity Apprentice” with a hot dog challenge and ready to win is an Olympic legend whose very existence in New York is nothing short of miraculous. Nadia Comaneci scored a first ever perfect ten in 1976, but her journey to America was filled with peril. Nadia is now married to fellow Olympian Bart Conner. They’ve been married since 1996 and are proud parents of 19-month old Dylan, but their union was 20-years in the making. “I was like the whole world,” Bart told Access Hollywood. “I fell in love with her when she won the Olympics.” The year was 1976 and 14-year-old Nadia stunned the world and became and instant sensation when she scored the first perfect 10 in Olympic history. That same year, she would cross paths with Bart for the first time. “I turned 18-years-old on the day of this event call the American Cup,” Bart said. “We were standing at the awards podium each holding up these big silver cups and somebody says ‘She is cute! Why don’t you give her a little kiss on the cheek? It would make a nice picture.’” But a combination of athletics and politics would keep the two apart. Competing for the then Soviet satellite of Romania, Nadia would win a total of 9 medals in two Olympics, including 5 gold. In the fall of ’89, three weeks before her country won its independence, Nadia defected to New York’s JFK airport, leaving everything, including her medals behind. With nothing more than the clothes on her back, she immediately spoke to the press. “I had no passport, I had to sneak out of the country. I was just looking for a way to freedom,” she explained to Access. “She escaped in the middle of the night with all these people knowing nothing about where she might end up or what her life might turn out to be or what might happen to her family back at home under communism,” Bart said. Nadia settled in Montreal, but Canada would not be her adopted country for long. “She lived up there for a year and a half and we just started communicating a lot over the phone, basically we fell in love over the phone. We just kept connected,” Bart said. “In 1991 I moved to Oklahoma,” Nadia added. And Bart has been thrilled ever since. “Lot of guys tell me my wife is a 10 and I say ‘No, my wife is the 10. Thank you very much,” he said.
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